Two community police personnel have been killed and three motor vehicles set on fire in China's troubled western region of Xinjiang's Hotan county, Uyghur sources said Friday, triggering a fresh security alert after the worst violence in four years earlier in the week.
The Uyghur Online website reported that investigations were under way following the fresh violence in Hotan's Yengi Awat (in Chinese, Yingawa) village on Thursday, two days after 21 people were killed in clashes in Siriqbuya (Selibuya) township in Kashgar prefecture.
The report did not provide details on the fresh incident in which it said two community security officers were killed and three vehicles burned.
"What we know is that this case is under investigation," the report said, adding that the motive behind the incident has not been identified. "The government did not comment on it."
According to Dilxat Raxit, Sweden-based spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, the Hotan deaths followed clashes between local Muslim Uyghurs, many of whom chafe under Beijing's rule, and local people hired to "maintain stability" and watch over the neighborhood.
"We are still trying to establish the actual cause of the clashes, but one issue is that China has recently stepped up security patrols in the Hotan area," Raxit said in an interview on Friday.
"They have sent large numbers of uniformed personnel there along the state highway from Kashgar, and you can see Chinese military vehicles everywhere, frequently," he said.
In contrast to the earlier clashes, China's official media appeared to remain silent on the new incident and the authorities were reluctant to comment.
An official who answered the phone at the Hotan police department said, "I don't know about this."
Calls to the Hotan district government offices and to the county government that oversees Yingawa village went unanaswered during office hours on Friday.
The reports emerged as Chinese President Xi Jinping called for stability in the ethnically-divided region after the Siriqbuya violence which Chinese officials and state media said had erupted after community officials on patrol were attacked by Uyghur "terrorists" armed with knives at a house.
Reinforcements were called, and in the ensuing shootout six of the suspects were killed, state media said. Others were killed either after being slashed by the suspects or burned to death when the house was torched, state media reports said.
In total, 16 Uyghurs, three Han Chinese, and two Mongolians were killed in the Siriqbuya violence—the worst since ethnic clashes between Uyghurs and Han Chinese rocked Xinjiang's regional capital of Urumqi in 2009, killing nearly 200.
Xi gave instructions on "how to handle the case, deal with the aftermath, and maintain stability in Xinjiang", the state-run Global Times said on its website, citing a local report, and without quoting Xi's remarks directly.
China on Friday accused the United States of "double standards" for not endorsing Beijing's account of the violence, after officials in Washington said the U.S. was "deeply concerned" by accounts of discrimination against Uyghurs and other Muslims in China.
China accused the U.S. of a "double standard" for not condemning the attack despite being a victim of terror itself.
Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese Service and Qiao Long for the Mandarin Service. Translated by Luisetta Mudie and Mamatjan Juma. Written in English by Luisetta Mudie.