Police Kill 20 in Xinjiang Clash: Uighur Group

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A Uighur group says Chinese police have killed 20 people during a clash between Uighurs and police in China's western Xinjiang region on Monday. Local authorities have blamed terrorists for this latest round of violence in the tightly controlled region.

Violence erupted again in China's western Xinjiang region. Ethnic tensions between Han Chinese and the Uighur minority group continues since deadly riots broke out there in 2009.

Protesters apparently attacked a police station in Hotan City on Monday. Chinese authorities blame "terrorists" for the attack that left at least four dead. Whereas an exiled Uighur group claims local police killed 20 peaceful protestors.

State-run Xinhua news agency reported Hotan city police had "gunned down" rioters that were attacking a police station, taking hostages and setting the station on fire.

But according to the Germany-based World Uighur Congress, a different set of events took place. They say the clash began after police fired on a group of demonstrators protesting against police brutality.

[Dilxat Raxit, Spokesperson, World Uighur Congress]:
"Chinese authorities fired on protestors. So far we have been told that 20 Uighurs have died. Twelve have been injured, three seriously. Those injured include four women and an eleven-year-old child."

Oil-rich Xinjiang is heavily populated by Muslim Uighurs. They have longed complained of their religion and culture being suppressed. The Chinese regime has kept a tight grip over the region and usually blames unrests on "terrorists" or "separatists."

Chinese authorities sent a counter-terrorism team to Xinjiang after Monday's clash, according to state media. The World Uighur Congress says roads into Hotan have been blocked, and more than 70 people have been arrested.

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