Chinese Police Shoot Eight Dead in Xinjiang Clash

Thu, 01/02/2014 - 11:50 -- Anonymous (not verified)
Chinese Soldiers. Photo: CNN
BEIJING—Police shot and killed eight suspected assailants and arrested another person Monday in a clash outside a police station in the restive western region of Xinjiang, state media said.
 
A brief report posted on the Xinjiang government's news website said the assailants, armed with machetes, attacked the police station in far western Yarkand county, throwing an explosive device that set fire to a police vehicle.
 
The report's headline called the clash "a violent terrorist attack" but didn't provide further details about the suspects.
 
Xinjiang strategically abuts Central Asia and has oil and natural-gas reserves. The region is home to a long-running separatist movement against Chinese rule by a Turkic-speaking, mainly Muslim ethnic group, the Uighurs.
 
Violent acts have risen following a deadly sectarian riot that left nearly 200 people dead in the regional capital in 2009. Contributing to a more volatile situation, experts say, some Uighurs have become influenced by more militant strains of Islam in recent years. Uighur groups cite increasingly intrusive policing and monitoring of religious activities by authorities.
 
An exiled group, the World Uyghur Congress, said heavy-handed policing was behind Monday's clash in Yarkand. "Directly opening fire and killing protesters and accusing them of being terrorists" is a current means of repressing Uighurs, said Dilxat Rexit, a spokesman for the congress, which is based in Germany.
 
Yarkand is a center of Uighur culture near the Silk Road oasis trading center of Kashgar, and the area, located on the southern rim of a desert, has been the site of violent clashes. Earlier this month, authorities said police tried to arrest the head of a violent cell, leading to a clash that left 16 people dead, including two police officers.
 
More than a half-dozen violent incidents have taken place in the region this past year, according to a tally of state media accounts. Beijing has accused terrorists of fomenting the violence, occasionally singling out the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which the U.N. and U.S. have placed on terrorist group lists. Chinese officials have accused the group of being behind a car explosion at Tiananmen Square in Beijing this October.
 
Write to Charles Hutzler at charles.hutzler@wsj.com