Uighur group says nearly 100 casualties in China clash
BEIJING - Agence France-Presse
A policeman stands guard under a stretch of the new high-speed rail line between Xinjiang's capital Urumqi and Turpan, June 3. REUTERS PhotoA clash in China’s far western region of Xinjiang, home to the country’s mostly Muslim Uighur minority, left nearly 100 people dead and wounded, an exile group said July 30.
Chinese state media reported on the late hours of July 29 that dozens of civilians and assailants were killed and injured in what it described as a “terrorist attack” in the region, saying a gang armed with knives and axes had attacked a police station and government offices, before moving on to a township.
“Police officers at the scene shot dead dozens of members of the mob,” the official news agency Xinhua said of the violence, said to have occurred on the early hours of July 28.
Xinhua did not give a precise breakdown of the casualties, and information in Xinjiang is often difficult to verify independently.
But Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, an exile group, said the toll had climbed significantly.
Citing local Uighur sources, he said in an e-mail: “Nearly 100 people were killed and wounded during the clash.” The violence came, he added, when “Uighurs rose up to resist China’s extreme ruling policy and were met with armed repression resulting in dead and injured on both sides.”
Raxit had earlier said more than 20 Uighurs were killed and 10 wounded, while a total of 13 armed Chinese personnel were killed or wounded and about 67 people were arrested.
The violence took place in Shache county, or Yarkant in the Uighur language, near the edge of the Taklamakan desert in the west of the vast region.
Beijing commonly blames separatists from Xinjiang for carrying out terror attacks which have grown in scale over the past year and spread outside the restive and resource-rich region.
Among the most shocking incidents was a market attack in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi in May in which 39 people were killed, and a deadly rampage by knife-wielding assailants at a train station at Kunming in China’s southwest in March, which left 29 dead.