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Attack on Chinese police station leaves over dozen dead

© Marianne Barriaux/ AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-06-21

Chinese police shot dead 13 people in the restive Xinjiang region after they drove into a police building and set off an explosion on Saturday, regional authorities said.

Three police officers were also injured in the attack.

The Tianshan website said that no civilians were hurt in the attack in Kashgar prefecture in Xinjiang’s southwest.

"Today thugs crashed a car into the public security building of Kargilik county in Xinjiang's Kashgar prefecture and set off an explosion. Police took decisive action and shot dead 13 thugs," the official Tianshan regional government website reported.

It was the latest in a series of attacks pointing to growing unrest in the sprawling region of Xinjiang. The vast and resource-rich region in China's far west is home to the mainly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, where the majority want more independence from Beijing.

The region has faced a series of violent attacks in recent years. Last month, a market bombing killed 43 people in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi. Chinese authorities have blamed the attacks on extremists bent on overthrowing Beijing’s rule.

Government crackdown

The government has vowed a year-long crackdown on terrorism in recent weeks following several high-profile attacks.

Authorities have announced hundreds of detentions or criminal punishments, including the sentencing of 55 people in late May for offences such as terrorism at a ceremony in a stadium attended by 7,000 people.

This week China executed 13 people for "terrorist attacks" in Xinjiang and ordered the death penalty for three others for a car crash last October in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, the symbolic heart of the Chinese state. In that incident, the first major event blamed on Xinjiang residents to take place outside the region, three family members drove onto the popular tourist area, killing two people and wounding 40 before the car burst into flames and they themselves died.

Although violence has occurred periodically across Xinjiang for years, few attacks had targeted ordinary citizens rather than police or government institutions.

Overseas rights groups blame the unrest in part on cultural repression and harsh security measures against Uighurs while Xinjiang's economic growth mostly benefits an influx of China's ethnic majority Han. Rights groups have also expressed concerns about whether terror suspects in the region can receive fair trials, given the common use of forced confessions in China's legal system.

Information from the area is difficult to verify independently, with foreign and local journalists subject to heavy restrictions.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

Date created : 2014-06-21

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