World Bulletin / News Desk
Chinese authorities have shot dead at least 15 ethnic Uighurs in a desert area in East Turkistan (Uyghur Autonomous Region), accusing them of 'terrorism' and illegal religious activity, in the latest violence to rock the troubled northwestern region of China, according to police sources.
They were among a group of more than 20 Uighurs surrounded and fired upon by police in a lightning raid last week in the Yilkiqi township in Kargilik (in Chinese, Yecheng) county in Kashgar prefecture, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.
"We conducted an anti-terror operation on August 20th, successfully and completely destroying the terrorists," Yilkiqi township police chief Batur Osman told RFA's Uyghur Service.
He refused to give the number of Uyghurs killed in the shootout, saying many of them were from out of town and some were not carrying identification documents.
One of the police assistants at the Yilkiqi police station told RFA that among those killed were at least 15 Uyghurs and one Han Chinese policeman.
"We police assistants were not sent to the scene but I heard from others who were there that 16 people had been killed, among them a Han Chinese policeman," said the police assistant, identifying himself only as Alimjan.
He said that six knives and axes had been recovered from the scene.
An RFA listener, citing contacts in Yilkiqi, his hometown, said he was told that police opened fire at a group of 28 Uighurs they believed were undergoing terrorism training and those killed at the scene were buried on the spot using escavators.
A Yilkiqi resident said that police on Saturday searched the house of his neighbor whose brother was implicated in the incident and that he overheard that 26 Uyghurs had been killed.
The figure could not be independently confirmed.
The Uighur declared independence in October 1933 but the region went under the control of communist China in 1949.
There has been immigration of Han Chinese, a majority ethnic group to East Asia, which subdued Uighur influence in the region and made them a minority.
Muslim Uighur have complained that China has restrained Uighurs' religious, commercial and cultural activities.Güncelleme Tarihi: 26 Ağustos 2013, 16:03