In a new sign of growing ethnic tension in Western China, at least 20 people were killed in a new outburst of violence in the country’s Muslims-majority region of Xinjiang.
(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - "Nine violent terrorists suddenly surged into the crowd and stabbed to death innocent people with their knives, causing 13 innocent people to die and injuring many," Xinjiang’s government said in a statement cited by Reuters.
"Police rushed to the scene, handled the situation with resolution and shot dead seven violent terrorists, capturing two.”
Attackers armed with axes attacked people in a market in Yecheng County near Kashgar, a local policeman told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The regional government did not identify any of the attackers or give their ethnicity. Nor did it identify the ethnicity of their victims.
However, the policeman said most of the victims were ethnic Han, though there were Uighur victims too.
Radio Free Asia, whose journalists talk regularly to Uighurs in the region, reported that a group of Uighurs killed three Han, and security officers then killed 12 Uighur youths.
Xinjiang was hit by deadly riots between Uighurs and Hans in 2009, which left nearly 200 people dead.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the Yecheng incident should not be overblown.
"The overall situation in Xinjiang is good," Hong told a daily news briefing.
"We firmly oppose a small group of violent terrorists and separatists destroying this kind of peaceful development and the calm ... conditions."
In January, authorities said that seven people killed by police in Xinjiang had been trying to leave the country to wage "holy war."
In September 2010, courts in Xinjiang sentenced four people to death for violence in two cities in which 32 people were killed.
Xinjiang has been autonomous since 1955 but continues to be the subject of massive security crackdowns by Chinese authorities.
Rights groups accuse Chinese authorities of religious repression against Uighur Muslims, a Turkish-speaking minority of eight million, in Xinjiang in the name of counter terrorism.
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