World Bulletin/News Desk
Chinese police shot dead dozens of knife-wielding attackers on Monday morning after they staged assaults on two towns in the western region of Xinjiang (East Turkestan), the official Xinhua news agency said on Tuesday.
Armed men had first attacked a police station and government offices in the town of Elixku, in Shache county, it said, quoting local police. Some moved on to the nearby town of Huangdi, attacking civilians and smashing and setting fire to six vehicles.
"Police officers at the scene shot dead dozens of members of the mob," the brief report said.
The dead and injured include not just Uighurs but members of China's majority Han Chinese population, the report said.
The U.S.-based Rebiya Kadeer, president of the exiled World Uyghur Congress, called for restraint, saying in a statement that she was worried "China will use this incident to step up repression, causing more people to loose their freedom."
The attack took place at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, which officials had tried to get Muslims in Xinjiang to ignore, in an indication of what rights groups say is discrimination targeting the Uighurs.
Xinjiang, home to many Turkic-speaking Uighurs, has for years been beset by violence, which the government blames on "militants or separatists" who it says are bent on establishing an independent state.
It was not clear why the attack was only being reported on Tuesday, more than a day after it took place, though China's ruling Communist Party, which values stability above all else, had a habit of suppressing or delaying bad news.
Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say the government's repressive policies in Xinjiang, including controls on Islam, have provoked unrest.
Exiles, rights groups and many foreign experts say that most of the proceeds have gone to the Han Chinese, stoking resentment among Uighurs.
Last Mod: 30 Temmuz 2014, 00:15