Deadly violence rocks China's restive Xinjiang

Twenty people died when a group armed with knives attacked a market in Xinjiang, the latest outbreak of violence in the ethnically divided Chinese region, authorities said Wednesday.

The motive behind the attack late on Tuesday was not immediately clear, but Xinjiang -- a vast region home to the mainly Muslim Uighur minority -- has suffered repeated outbreaks of ethnic unrest in recent years.

The Xinhua state news agency initially put the toll at 12 dead, including two assailants who it said were armed with knives.

But the official information website Tianshan said Wednesday the death toll was 20, including 13 "innocent people" and seven "terrorists" who were killed by police.

"Nine violent terrorists rushed into the crowd with knives, killing 13 innocent people and wounding several others," Tianshan said.

A police officer told AFP by telephone earlier that around a dozen Uighurs wielding axes attacked the market in the remote town of Yecheng, killing 10 people and police then shot five of the attackers dead.

Xinjiang, which borders Pakistan and Afghanistan, is home to around nine million Uighurs who complain of oppression under Chinese rule.

The number of Han -- China's dominant ethnic group -- living in the region has increased dramatically over the past decade, which government critics say results from a policy of migration to dilute any Uighur nationalist tendencies.

"At around 5.30 or 6.00 pm around a dozen rioters carrying axes appeared in the market, in an area that is mostly populated by Han people," said the police officer, who gave only his surname Tuo.

"Most of the victims were Han people, but some were Uighurs. Five rioters were shot, not two, and they were all Uighurs."

Xinjiang has been under heavy security since July 2009, when Uighurs launched attacks on Han people in the regional capital Urumqi.

The government says nearly 200 people were killed and 1,700 injured in the violence, which shattered the authoritarian Communist Party's claims of harmony and unity among the country's dozens of ethnic groups.

Many Uighurs remain angry at the harsh crackdown that followed the violence.

The government blames much of the violence in the resource-rich region on what it calls the three "evil forces" of extremism, separatism and terrorism.

But some experts doubt terror cells operate in Xinjiang, where the Turkic-speaking Uighurs practise a moderate form of Islam.

The World Uighur Congress, a German-based exile group, said authorities in Yecheng had detained more than 100 people and closed off all exits and entries in response to the latest attack.

Seven of those killed on Tuesday were Chinese armed patrol personnel, it said, citing local sources.

"The incident happened because Uighurs can no longer bear China's systematic repression, and are using primitive fighting methods to resist," said a statement by Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the group.

He said armed police shot and killed 10 Uighurs and wounded 11 others and blamed a "huge influx" of Han Chinese immigrants and official discrimination against Uighurs for the violence.

"Uighurs have been completely stripped of any peaceful ways of resisting," he said.

Barry Sautman, associate professor of social science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said it was not clear whether the outbreaks of violence had increased since 2009, but that they appeared to be growing more daring.

"Since 2009, these incidents have been more, how should I say, spectacular, like storming police stations and attacks on police," he said.

Authorities in Xinjiang said last month they plan to recruit 8,000 extra police officers as China strengthens security in the run-up to a major leadership transition that begins later this year.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei blamed "terrorists" for the latest attack although he added that "we do not yet know clearly who is behind these actions".

"The overall situation in Xinjiang is quite good," he told a regular briefing.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • US missile cruiser docks at Subic
    US missile cruiser docks at Subic

    A US Navy missile cruiser has dropped anchor in Subic Bay as part of “routine port call,” amid rising tension in the West Philippine Sea stirred by China’s island building activities and other threatening moves by its forces. The arrival of the Ticonderoga-class missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG-67) at the Subic Bay Freeport in Olongapo City yesterday was “just a routine port visit for ship replenishment and routine maintenance of shipboard system,” said Philippine Navy Public Affairs Office …

  • Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño
    Agri, power sectors should brace for El Niño

    The agriculture and power sectors, as well as the general public should brace for a prolonged El Niño phenomenon that could further reduce water supply for electricity and irrigation, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned yesterday. Flaviana Hilario, acting deputy administrator for research and development of PAGASA, said the El Niño condition is expected to intensify from weak to moderate by August this year. Anthony Lucero, …

  • China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row
    China to US: Help cool down Phl on sea row

    The US should help “cool down” the Philippines and realize that its meddling in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) dispute would only stir tensions, a Chinese newspaper reported. “Washington should know its meddling in the South China Sea has been destabilizing the region. The US has vowed not to take sides in the territorial dispute, which involves China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan. …

  • No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests
    No stopping K to 12 despite SC case, protests

    K to 12 is the fruit of years of comprehensive consultations involving different sectors in education,” Aquino said during the launching of the program at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City. Organized by the Department of Education (DepEd), the launch was attended by teachers, students and representatives from different stakeholders supportive of the K to 12 program. It was held two years after the signing of Republic Act 10533, or the Enhanced Basic Education …

  • MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t
    MNLF pushes review of peace pact with gov’t

    The Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) maintained its bid for completion of the tripartite review of the implementation of the peace agreement with the Philippine government in 1996. The MNLF’s desire to put consensual closure to the tripartite effort was relayed by its leaders to Sayed El-Masry, the special envoy of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), during the annual foreign ministers conference in Kuwait last Thursday. The MNLF peace agreement with the government in Sept. 2, …

  • Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe
    Noy to raise sea dispute issue with Abe

    President Aquino is expected to raise the West Philippine Sea dispute during his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan next week. However, there is no word yet if the Philippines will specifically ask Tokyo to join calls for China to stop its massive reclamation activities in disputed waters. Aquino will leave for Tokyo on June 2 for a state visit until June 5. …

  • CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike
    CHED releases wrong data on tuition hike

    The Commission on Higher Education (CHED) appears to have released erroneous data on the allowed tuition and other fee increases in Metro Manila for the incoming academic year. On the list of the 51 approved higher education institutions (HEI) allowed to impose hikes, CHED pegged the average increase in tuition at P32.34 per unit and the average increase in other fees at P34.79. However, a Philippine STAR re-computation showed that the actual average approved tuition increases in Metro Manila …

  • Leni Robredo may run for senator
    Leni Robredo may run for senator

    The widow of the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo admitted that running for higher office in 2016 had crossed her mind. Camarines Sur Third District Rep. Leni Robredo said she is focused on her re-election, but there is always the possibility that she would seek higher office. “There is always that possibility… because the filing (of certificate of candidacy) is in October yet,” Robredo said in an interview after her speech during the 23rd Girl Scouts of the Philippines Council …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options