At least 27 people have been killed after gangs armed with knives attacked a police station and a local government building in a remote region of western China today. The Xinhua agency said mobs in the Xinjiang region – home to a large Muslim Uighur minority – set upon buildings in the township of Lukqun, stabbing people and setting fire to police cars.
UK Daily Mail (h/t Nungy) Nine police officers and security guards and eight civilians were killed before police opened fire on the attackers, leaving 10 dead, regional Communist Party officials told the agency. The reported unrest in the region was the deadliest since July 2009, when nearly 200 people were killed in riots pitting Uighur Muslims against ethnic Chinese in the region’s capital Urumqi.
Many Uighurs, who speak a Turkic language, chafe at what they call Chinese government restrictions on their culture, language and religion. China says it grants Uighurs wide-ranging freedoms and accuses extremists of separatism.
Xinjiang is ruled by China’s Han ethnic majority. It has been the scene of numerous violent incidents in recent years. The report said three rioters were seized, and that police pursued fleeing suspects, though it did not say how many.
Information is tightly controlled in the region, which the Chinese government regards as highly sensitive and where it has imposed a heavy security presence to quell unrest. However, forces are spread thin across the vast territory and the response from authorities is often slow.