Five killed in attack, 3 shot dead by police in China’s Xinjiang region

Three attackers killed five people in the restive Xinjiang region of China before they were shot dead by police.

world Updated: Feb 15, 2017 18:52 IST
Sutirtho Patranobis
Sutirtho Patranobis
AP, Beijing
Xinjiang,China,Knife attack in China
File photo of policemen standing guard behind a barricade blocking the street leading to the site of an explosives attack in downtown Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, in May 2014. (Reuters)

At least five people were killed by three attackers before they were shot dead by police in Xinjiang, the latest outbreak of violence in the restive region of northwestern China.

According to information from the local government, three men armed with swords rushed into a housing complex in Pishan county and attacked residents on Tuesday.

At least 10 more people were injured. They were taken to a nearby government hospital for treatment.

Neither the victims nor the attackers have been identified by authorities.

But the government usually blames violence and rioting in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) on extremists and separatists from the Uyghur community.

Authorities also often blame violence on separatist forces that they say are trained outside China.

Uyghur groups based abroad say the violence is a reaction to harsh government policies, which they claim have gradually alienated large sections of the community.

They claim government policies are aimed at negating Uyghur identity and culture, besides being anti-Islam.

Dolkun Isa, a Germany-based Uyghur activist – who is wanted in China for alleged acts of terror – told Hindustan Times on Wednesday that several young men from the community were arrested after Tuesday night’s incident.

Isa said the Chinese army had been mobilised following the violence.

The attack, he said, was a “reaction against the recent repression by the Chinese authority”.

Isa said thousands of mosques had been destroyed in the region, particularly in Hotan, Kashgar and Aksu, since October 2016.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesperson of the World Uyghur Congress, said people in the region were resorting to radical protests because there is no avenue for peaceful protests.

Independent verification of news is difficult because the government exercises tight control on the flow of information from Xinjiang.

In another development, seven people were arrested in the region for allegedly spreading extremist content online.

“The Xinjiang cyberspace administration office said suspects spread information online relating to terrorism, violence, religious extremism and separatism, as well as rumours, fake news, insults and defamatory statements,” the state media reported.

Under Xinjiang’s anti-terror law, people using “cellphones, the internet, mobile storage devices or other media to disseminate terrorism or extremist thoughts will also be held accountable for terror crimes”.

First Published: Feb 15, 2017 11:44 IST