Originally published on December 16, 2013
Sixteen people were killed during a clash between police officers and alleged rioters in Xinjiang, according to a local Chinese state-run news agency.
Tianshan, a Xinjiang government-run news portal, reported that
the deadly scuffle took place on Sunday night (December 15) when policemen attempted to make an arrest in a village near Kashgar. They were ambushed by a mob wielding knives and throwing explosive devices.
Police opened fire on the mob, killing 14 people. Two officers were also among the casualties. "Police responded decisively," the Xinjiang government said in a statement posted on Tianshan. Two suspects were also detained, and an investigation would be launched promptly.
The state-media report did not identify the ethnicity of the attackers. However, Xinjiang has seen ethnic violence from time to time, as the region is also home to Muslim Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people. Even though they do not make up a majority in Xinjiang, they are heavily present in the area near Kashgar.
The Chinese government habitually blames the Uighur people for the sporadic unrest, claiming they are controlled by religious extremism, terrorism and separatism, while Uighur right groups say that the violent outbreaks are triggered by the economic and cultural oppression by Han Chinese.
Two months ago, three Xinjiang Uighurs launched a suicide bomb attack at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, killing themselves and two onlookers.
One of the worst violence occurred in 2009, where about 200 people were killed and more than 1,600 injured. The Chinese government has since then heightened security in Xinjiang.
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