At least 32 people were killed and several others wounded in a major terror attack by a mob armed with knives and axes in northwest China’s volatile Xinjiang province on the eve of Eid, in the latest violence blamed on Islamist militants.
Police shot dead 22 “attackers” and arrested 41 others when suspected Uygur militants attacked a government office and a police station in Elixku township in Kashgar’s Yarkand, or Shache on Monday, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post said. At least 10 civilians were killed in the incidents, the report said adding that initial investigation showed it was a “premeditated terrorist attack.”
State-run Xinhua news agency last night reported that dozens were either killed or injured in the attack during Eid in the Muslim Uygur native province last night. The agency did not provide details or cite any reasons for the delay in reporting the news. A gang armed with knives and axes had attacked a police station and government offices in Elixku Township.
Some moved on to the nearby Huangdi Township, attacking civilians and smashing vehicles, the report said. The Post report said militants hijacked a bus to Kashgar to distract police, and kept them busy while attacks took place elsewhere. Shache and Makit are under Kashgar’s administration, and the area has been hit by several violent incidents in recent years.
However, the official version was disputed by US-based Uyghur American Association on Wednesday. It said according to “local sources” police killed protesters and condemned “Chinese security forces’ heavy-handed Ramadan crackdown since the beginning of the Holy Month and extrajudicial use of lethal force in recent weeks.”The attack took place at the end of the holy month of Ramadan, which authorities had attempted to get Muslims in Xinjiang to ignore, in an indication of what rights groups say is discrimination targeting the Uygurs.
Xinjiang, restive over native Muslim Uygur’s resentment over settlements of Hans, has witnessed a surge in terror attacks. China accuses an Al qaeda-backed East Turkestan Islamic Movement for the attacks. Last month, police shot dead 13 people who attacked a police station in Yecheng county, also near Kashgar.
Located near the border with Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, Kashgar is the biggest city in Xinjiang and the westernmost city in China. Monday’s incident also coincided with the 10th Kashgar Central and South Asia Commodity Fair attended by about 1,600 businessmen and delegates from countries like Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.