More suspects have been arrested by the police over violence in China’s northwestern frontier of Xinjiang which left 21 people dead last week.
State media did not reveal the number of people arrested but claimed to have found considerable progress in the case.
Police have tracked
down a batch of homemade explosives, lethal weapons, and flags of "East Turkistan" terrorists, Vice Minister of Public Security Meng Hongwei told state media on Monday.
The Chinese government has earlier claimed links between violence in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) and members of the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM).
Last April, the government published photos of six alleged “terrorists” – all ethnic Muslim Uyghurs from Xinjiang -- and said they were members of the ETIM.
The latest case of violence happened last Tuesday in a town of Bachu County, Kashgar Prefecture, some 1,200 km southwest of Urumqi, regional capital of Xinjiang.
The clash between the terrorists and authorities left 21 people dead, including 15 community workers and police officers and six suspects.
In the first wave of arrests, eight suspects were picked up last Tuesday.
Meng said the clash was a “serious violent terrorist criminal case,” which led to significant losses. He warned of the “prolonged and complicated” nature of the anti-terror fight in Xinjiang at present.
He said sometimes the fight can be “relatively intense” with the incessant incitement and influence from overseas “East Turkistan” secessionist terrorists.
The national broadcaster China Central Television on Monday broadcast a memorial service for the 15 police and local officials who were killed.
The World Uyghur Congress, an umbrella organisation of Uyghur groups, has disputed the government's version, saying the clashes were a result of a government clean-up campaign.
Exiled groups claim that while the Uyghurs are in majority in the region, their culture and way of life was being deliberately marginalised.
It is difficult to independently verify information from the region though technically there’s no restriction on journalists from travelling to Xinjiang.
A BBC team that visited the site of the recent incident to try and clarify details were taken by police to a government compound and subsequently ordered to leave, the news organisation said in a report on its website.
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