The latest report about a confrontation on Wednesday in the far western region of Xinjiang appeared to contradict versions carried by the state media that suggested the police had killed “violent terrorists” on their way to jihad training.
In the new report, Radio Free Asia said on Friday that four of the people detained after the confrontation in a mountainous area of Xinjiang were children, ages 7 to 17, and that they had been part of a group trying to flee the country to escape repression.
The seven people killed were all Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking ethnic minority that is widespread in southern Xinjiang, Radio Free Asia reported, though it could not be independently confirmed. The Uighurs resent the rule of ethnic Han, the dominant group in China, especially the government-encouraged migration of Han to the region.
A report on Thursday by Xinhua, the state news agency, said that police officers had engaged in a shootout with 15 terrorist suspects who had abducted two people, and that seven of the suspects and one police officer had been killed. Xinhua did not specify the ethnicity of the gunmen.
An article on Friday in The Global Times, a state-run newspaper, said that a group of kidnappers had been trying to cross into Central Asia to undergo “jihadist training” and had abducted two herdsmen to force them to guide the group in Pishan County.