World Bulletin/News Desk
Clashes in China's East Turkestan (Xinjiang) have left 21 people dead, including 15 police and officials, the local government says.
The incident occurred on Tuesday afternoon in Bachu county, Kashgar, a statement on the official Xinjiang government website said.
It began when officials searched homes for weapons, it said. Six "gang members" were among the dead, it said.
A Xinhua report said "violent attacks" had caused deaths, but did not expand.
According to the official statement, the clash was sparked as officials described as community workers "searched homes for weapons and were then taken hostage."
Eight other "gang members" were captured, it said. Ten of the officials and police killed were ethnic Uighurs, it said.
Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress, said the violence was sparked by the shooting and killing of a young Uighur by "Chinese armed personnel", prompting the Uighurs to fight back.
"To suppress the fight among the Uighurs, China can engage in arbitrary shootings," Raxit said in an emailed statement.
East Turkestan, a region about twice the size of Turkey, is home to around nine million ethnic Uighurs, many of whom complain of religious and cultural repression by Chinese authorities. The region is regularly hit by unrest.
Officials and state media blame the unrest on “terrorists” but some experts say the government has produced little evidence of an organised threat, adding the violence stems more from long-standing local resentment.
Riots between Uighurs and members of China’s Han ethnic majority in capital Urumqi in 2009 killed around 200 people, leading the ruling Communist Party to tighten surveillance.
The province saw more than half of China’s “endangering state security”trials last year, but is home to less than two per cent of the country’s population, suggesting “ethnic discrimination”, the Dui Hua Foundation advocacy group said.
According to official figures, 46 per cent of Xinjiang’s population is Uighur, while another 39 per cent are Han Chinese, after millions moved to the area in recent decades.
Last Mod: 24 Nisan 2013, 14:13