China raised the death toll to 20 in a deadly weekend attack in China’s Xinjiang region that was masterminded by “Islamic terrorists” trained in Pakistan, the local government said, in the worst violence there in a year.
REUTERS –The clash marked the worst violence in about a year in the far western region, home to many Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people native to the area, many of whom resent the growing presence of majority Han Chinese in Xinjiang.
Xinjiang is strategically vital to China and Beijing has shown no sign of loosening its grip on the territory, which accounts for one-sixth of China’s land mass and holds rich deposits of oil and gas and borders Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Central Asia. The exile group had said 20 Uighurs were killed — 14 beaten to death and 6 shot dead — and 70 arrested, when police opened fire on protesters, leading to fighting between the two sides.
The Xinjiang government’s website said that police fatally shot the 14 rioters after giving “legal education and warnings,” adding that 18 rioters had bought and made weapons and sneaked into the desert city of Hotan days before the clash on Monday. The report said the rioters, armed with axes, knives, daggers, Molotov cocktails and explosive devices, “crazily beat, smashed and set on fire” the police station, and hung “flags of extreme religion” on the top of the station.
Two policemen and two hostages were also killed in the clash and four of the rioters were arrested, it added. “It was an organized, premeditated and severe violent terrorist attack to local politics-and-law departments,” the report said.
Economic Times –The Kashgar authorities said in a statement on their website that initial investigations found that the perpetrators of one attack learned explosive-making skills in terrorist-run camps in Pakistan. “The heads of the group had learned skills of making explosives and firearms in overseas camps of the terrorist group East Turkistan Islamic Movement in Pakistan before entering Xinjiang,” the online statement said.
Remote Xinjiang has seen several outbreaks of ethnic violence in recent years as the mainly Muslim Uighur minority bridles under what it sees as government oppression and the unwanted immigration of ethnic Han Chinese. (Yes, how dare the Chinese try to immigrate into different areas of China?)
This tension has triggered sporadic bouts of violence in Xinjiang — a vast, arid but resource-rich region which is home to more than eight million Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs.
In the nation’s worst ethnic violence in decades, Uighurs savagely attacked Han Chinese in the regional capital Urumqi in July 2009 — an incident that led to retaliatory attacks by Han on Uighurs several days later. The government says around 200 people were killed and 1,700 injured in the violence, which cast doubt on the authoritarian Communist Party’s claims of harmony among the country’s dozens of ethnic groups.