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Sunday, 16 February 2014

11 dead in terrorist attack in Xinjiang

BEIJING: A total of 11 people died in an “attack” in China’s Xinjiang region, with eight “terrorists” shot dead by police and three blowing themselves up, having injured four people, authorities said.

The incident in Aksu prefecture is the latest violence in the restive region home to mostly Muslim ethnic Uighurs.

“Eight terrorists were killed by police and three by their own suicide bomb during a terrorist attack on Friday afternoon,” the Xinhua official news agency said, citing police.

Riding motorbikes and cars carrying LNG cylinders, the group approached police officers near a park in Wushi county as they prepared to go on patrol, it said.

The Tianshan web portal, which is run by the Xinjiang government, said that the 11 attackers were killed, while two police and two passers-by were injured and one assailant detained. Photos posted on the site showed a charred police van and jeep.

Xinjiang police and information officers reached by phone declined to comment. Wushi government and police officials could not be reached.

Aksu, in the far west of Xinjiang near the border with Kyrgyzstan, was the scene of triple explosions in late January that killed at least three people. Police shot dead six people soon afterwards.

The vast and resource-rich region of Xinjiang has for years been hit by occasional unrest carried out by Uighurs, which rights groups say is driven by cultural oppression, intrusive security measures and immigration by Han Chinese.

Authorities routinely attribute such incidents to “terrorists”, and argue that China faces a violent separatist movement in the area motivated by religious extremism.

But experts question the strength of any resistance movement, and information in the area is hard to independently verify.

A spokesman for the overseas World Uyghur Congress, Dilshat Rexit, blamed the latest incident on what he called China’s violent policies.

“Chinese armed officers’ violent rooting out and provocation are the reason for Uighur resistance,” he said in an e-mailed statement. — AFP

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