Violence erupted in China's Muslim Uygur dominated restive Xinjiang province on Tuesday as security forces "gunned down several rioters" after they attacked a police station in Hotan, official media reports said.
Rioters rushed into the police station, took hostages and set fire to the station, the ministry of public security was quoted as saying by the government-run Xinhua news agency.
A member of the armed police, a security official and two hostages were killed during the ordeal, the ministry added.
The police quickly converged on the scene and "gunned down several rioters" while freeing six hostages, the ministry said, adding that the injured are currently hospitalised.
The national counter-terrorism office of China has dispatched a working team to Xinjiang.
This is the first time the province witnessed such a large-scale violence after the 2009 riots in its provincial capital Urmuqi which left scores dead and over 400 injured.
China blames Xinjiang conflicts on violent separatists working with groups outside China. It accused the separatist East Turkistan Movement, (ETM) as well as Rebiya Kadeer, the US-based dissident Uygur leader for the violence.
The 2009 riots broke out between Uygurs, Suni Muslims of Turkish origin protesting the growing settlement of mainland Hans.
China subsequently contained the violence in the province bordering Pakistan occupied Kashmir (POK) by deploying large number troops.
China also sought the assistance of the Pakistan military to smash ETM network across the border.
Besides changing the local ruling Communist Party leadership to relax some of the hardline policies like permitting the local Uygur language, China also launched billions of dollars of infrastructure projects to modernise the natural resources rich province.