A Uyghur man stabbed a police officer to death and was instantly shot and killed by fellow policemen in the capital of China's northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, police and officials said Tuesday, in the latest violence to hit the troubled region.
Policeman Osmanjan Ghoji, 29, was attacked suddenly as he was leaving a meeting with other police officers and officials in Urumqi city on Sunday evening, they said, suggesting a political motive behind the incident.
Police identified his attacker as ethnic minority Uyghur Ilyar Rehmutulla from Xinjiang's Aksu prefecture located in China's extreme west on its border with Kyrgyzstan.
"It occurred suddenly while the officials and police were leaving a meeting in the Xinya neighborhood in Yamalik district of Urumqi city," a police officer told RFA's Uyghur Service.
"Osmanjan Ghoji was stabbed by one attacker, who was shot at by other police," he said. "This is what I heard from my colleagues who are busy consoling Osmanjan’s family and making arrangements for his burial ceremony."
"The attacker was alone and we don’t know yet whether it was an organized or a personal revenge attack. But the location and target of the attack indicates a political motive."
Ghoji left behind a wife, Mihray, according to Bari Memet, the deputy chief of the nationalities and religious affairs department of Turpan city.
Not surprised by attack
A resident in Yamalik told RFA he was not surprised by the knife attack considering the spate of violence occurring in the region stemming from what he said was discrimination faced by the Uyghurs, who have to endure random house-to-house checks by police and officials and various other "difficulties."
The resident, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the attack could have been triggered by anger among Uyghurs whose family members remain missing since deadly ethnic riots rocked Urumqi five years ago.
Thousands of Uyghurs have been forcibly disappeared since July 2009 violence following long-simmering tensions between the majority Han Chinese and Uyghurs.
Most are believed to have been taken into custody by authorities in large-scale sweep operations.
Many ethnic minority Uyghurs in Xinjiang say they are subjected to political, cultural, and religious repression for opposing Chinese rule. They complain that an influx of Han Chinese into the region has deprived them of employment and other opportunities.
China has intensified a sweeping security crackdown in Xinjiang, where according to official figures about 100 people are believed to have been killed over the past year—many of them Uyghurs accused by the authorities of terrorism and separatism.
Rights groups and experts say Beijing exaggerates the terrorism threat to take the heat off domestic policies that cause unrest or to justify the authorities' use of force against Uyghurs.
Many Uyghurs refer to Xinjiang as East Turkestan, as the region came under Chinese control following two short-lived East Turkestan republics in the 1930s and 1940s.
Reported by Shohret Hoshur for RFA's Uyghur Service. Translated by Shohret Hoshur. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai