11 people killed and two injured as group of axe-wielding militants attack police station in China

  • Nine militants and two police officers were killed in the clash on Saturday
  • It is one of numerous violent incidents in the region in recent months
  • The authorities blame the unrest on Uighur terrorists allied with al-Qaida
  • But activists claim social discrimination and religious restrictions are fueling anger among the region’s native Turkic Muslim Uighur ethnic group

By Suzannah Hills

Eleven people have been killed in an assault on a police station in China’s northwestern region of Uyghuristan, it emerged today.

It is the latest in a series of attacks pointing to growing unrest among the region’s native Turkic Muslim Uighur ethnic group over social and religious discrimination in the area.

Two police officers and nine militants were killed in the incident on Saturday afternoon, the Uyghuristan government said in a statement posted on its microblog. 

It said the assailants were armed with knives and axes in the attack in Bachu county’s Serikbuya township, near the historic city of Kashgar.

Unrest: Eleven people have been killed in a clash between police and militants in the Xinjiang region, pictured

‘Nine mobs [sic] holding knives and axes attacked a police station at Bachu county, killing two auxiliary policemen and injuring another two policemen,’ according to a report on xinhuanet.com, which cited a web report from the Uyghuristan government.

‘The nine mobs were gunned down on the site and local social orders restored to normal,’ said the report, which identified one of the attackers with an apparent Uighur name.

The statement added that two police officers were injured in the clash. Calls to government and police offices in the region rang unanswered Sunday.

The U.S.-government funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia and a Uighur (pronounced WEE’-gur) activist claimed that several of the young attackers were killed by a police special weapons and tactics team.

Local residents had apparently gathered at the scene to urge the officers to take the attackers alive.

‘There were around 40 to 50 people gathered around the station. They shouted to the police not to shoot, capture them alive and try them,’ the broadcaster quoted an unnamed eyewitness as saying.

Sweden-based activist Dilxat Raxit said security forces have been increasingly opting to shoot and kill suspects at the scene rather than capturing them and putting them on trial.

‘Before, they’d put them on trial. You could argue about the fairness of the trial, but at least they were alive. Now, they’re just killing them outright,’ Raxit said by phone.

He said the tougher policy appeared to be aimed at intimidating Uighurs and preventing suspects from giving testimony. 

Accusations: Radicals among the region’s native Turkic Muslim Uighur ethnic group, pictured in Hotan, farwest China’s Xinjiang region, have been blamed for the attack by officials

‘Now all of Bachu county is under lockdown, and any incident is suppressed by force,’ Raxit said.

Xinjiang has long been home to a simmering insurgency against Chinese rule led by radicals among the region’s native Uighur ethnic group.

This year has seen increasing bloodshed, with a number of deadly clashes in Xinjiang and one in the heart of Beijing in which three attackers drove a vehicle through crowds in front of historic Tiananmen Gate, killing themselves and two tourists.

Scores of attackers and government officials have been killed, although the total figure isn’t known because many incidents go unreported.

The authorities blame the violence on Uighur terrorists allied with al-Qaida. Activists say despair over economic and social discrimination as well as cultural and religious restrictions are fueling anger among Uighurs.

The government statement gave few details, but the official China Daily newspaper said the nine attackers were shot dead on the spot, and identified one of them by the Uighur name of Abula Ahat.

The newspaper said the police station was the same one that had been attacked in April in a clash that erupted after local police and community workers discovered suspicious behavior at a nearby home. That led to a gang of alleged extremists hacking and burning to death 15 members of the security services, while six of their own were shot dead.

Xinjiang is a sprawling region bordering Afghanistan, Pakistan and a number of unstable Central Asian states. It is home to about 9ninemillion Uighurs, many of whom complain that they’ve been marginalized by policies favoring Han migrants.

Beijing says it treats all minorities fairly and spends billions of dollars on development and improving living standards in Xinjiang.

The militants attacked a police station in Serikbuya, near the historic city of Kashgar, in the Xinjiang region


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