China has previously called some of the violence in the far
western region of Xinjiang the work of Islamist militants plotting
Describing the incident which happened late on Sunday, Hua Chunying,
a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stopped short of
directly blaming Islamist militants but said a "violent terror gang"
attacked police with explosives.
"It once again showed the true face of violent terror. It should be
condemned by all people who love peace and stability," she told a
daily news briefing. "This conspiracy does not enjoy popular support
and is doomed to failure."
The regional government said police were attacked by a mob throwing
explosive devices and wielding knives when they went to arrest
"criminal suspects" in a village near Kashgar.
"Police responded decisively," the government said in a brief
statement, adding that two people had been detained and that an
investigation had been launched.
The official Xinhua news agency said in an English-language report
that "terrorists" were responsible. It did not elaborate.
A police officer reached by Reuters in the county where the incident
occurred, called Shufu county in Chinese, said it was "not
convenient" to provide any additional information.
In a similar outburst of violence, at least nine civilians and two
policemen were killed when a group of people armed with axes and
knives attacked a police station also near Kashgar last month, state
media has said.
Rights groups and exiles say police often use often heavy-handed
tactics against the Muslim Uighur community, which calls Xinjiang
home. Violence has broken out previously when groups of Uighurs
protest at police stations, they say.
[to top of second column]
China has stepped up security in Xinjiang after a vehicle ploughed
into tourists on the edge of Beijing's Tiananmen Square in October,
killing the three people in the car and two bystanders.
China said the attack was carried out by Islamist militants, and has
reacted angrily to suggestions that it was because of frustration
and anger over government repression of Muslims in Xinjiang.
Many of Xinjiang's Turkic-speaking, Muslim people chafe at
restrictions on their culture, language and religion, although the
government insists it grants them broad freedoms.
Xinjiang has been the scene of numerous incidents of unrest in
recent years, which the government often blames on the separatist
East Turkestan Islamic Movement, even though many experts and rights
groups cast doubt on its existence as a cohesive group.
Many rights groups say China has long overplayed the threat posed to
justify its tough controls in energy-rich Xinjiang, which lies
strategically on the borders of Central Asia, India and Pakistan.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Megha
Rajagopalan; editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)
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