At least 14 people were killed and 40 others injured in fresh violence in the ethnically torn Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region over the weekend, according to state media and other reports.
A dissident group said that about 100 Uyghurs have been rounded up following the unrest in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar, which is under a security lockdown.
State media said knife-wielding attackers killed at least nine people in two separate attacks near the city's food market and shopping center.
Chinese security forces shot dead four of the attackers and detained four others while another was slain by victims, state run Xinhua news agency said.
The attacks came two weeks after 20 people were killed in a raid on a police station in Hotan city near Kashgar in the bloodiest violence in a year in Xinjiang.
In Kashgar, the first incident late Saturday night left seven dead, after two attackers near the city's food market hijacked a truck waiting at a red light, killed the driver, and drove the truck into the the crowd on the street, Xinhua reported on Sunday.
Wielding knives, they jumped down from the truck and stabbed people at random, it said.
The attack on Sunday took place near a shopping street in Kashgar around 4:30 p.m., Xinhua said.
It was not clear how many died in the second attack. State media initially reported that three were killed in an explosion, but later said that gunshots had been mistaken for an explosion and that at least six were killed, four of them slashed with knives outside a restaurant.
Dilxat Raxit, spokesman of the World Uyghur Congress, an overseas Uyghur
exile group, said that at least 100 Uyghurs had been rounded up
following the incidents.
“I'm afraid the two incidents will become a new excuse for the police to carry out further repression on Uyghurs,” he said.
Memet Tursun, an Uyghur resident of Kashgar who lives in a building 3 km
(2 miles) from where Saturday’s attack occurred, said many Uyghur men
have been detained.
“They [the police] have become crazy now; they don’t know what to do
about the incident or how to deal with it. They captured dozens of boys
from the building I live in because the boys just appeared to be ‘bad’
people in the police’s view.”
Xinjiang, where Muslim Uyghurs chafe under Chinese rule, is one of the
most volatile regions in China. Deadly riots in the regional capital of
Urumqi left at least 200 dead in July 2009 following clashes between Han
Chinese and Uyghurs.
One Han Chinese Kashgar resident said he was told that police reinforcements were beefed up following Saturday's attacks.
“My friend could see a great mass of people at the entrance of the food
market street from his building, the police came immediately, and there
were riot police too,” the resident told RFA.
One of the two attackers was killed while fighting with the crowd and the other was taken into custody, according to Xinhua.
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) spokesman Hou Hanmin said that
the two attackers were Uyghurs, according to Agence France-Presse.
A resident of the Nurbagh area of Kashgar who did not wish to be named
told RFA that "religious believers" were believed targeted by police as
“The people who attach importance to religion in their lives are [the
ones] becoming victims…. Two of my friends were taken from their houses
this morning by police. … My friends perform the five daily prayers and
their wives [have their faces] covered [by veils]."
"I believe that definitely their [religious] lifestyle was the cause of this trouble [for them],” he said.
The situation in Kashgar remains tense for both Uyghurs and Han Chinese,
as local residents said on Sunday that the city center was under
lockdown and security forces were patrolling the streets.
A blogger who said he was in Kashgar posted photographs that appeared to
show groups of armed police in camouflage uniforms in a street, some
carrying away people who were apparently injured.
As the blogger was conversing online with Reuters news agency, he said
he was visited by police who deleted the photographs from his camera and
removed them from his blog.
“The tension is still continuing. We are trying to provide a feeling of
safety to our Han residents, by increasing tightness of security
measures, because they are so scared since the incident,” said Alimjan
Memet, chief of the Heytagh police station in Kashgar.
Rebiya Kadeer, president of the World Uyghur Congress, said that the attacks highlighted the frustration of the Uyghur people.
“I think not much explanation for the roots of the incident is needed as the weapons carried by the attackers—
explains everything: they don’t have rights, they don’t have jobs, and they don’t have money,” she said.
Uyghurs say they have long suffered ethnic discrimination, oppressive
religious controls, and continued poverty and joblessness despite
China's ambitious plans to develop its vast northwestern frontier.
Chinese authorities however blame Uyghur "separatists" for a series of
deadly attacks in recent years and accuse one group in particular of
maintaining links to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network.
On Sunday, the Xinjiang Uyhgur Autonomous Region standing committee held
a meeting about the incidents and announced that officials will
continue to “strike hard” against terrorist activities and criminal
Reported by Shohret Hoshur and Qiao Long. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.