Two Uyghur youth were shot dead and one captured after the fatal stabbing of three security officials.
Residents of Aksu prefecture say an 85-year-old imam jailed on charges of illegal religious teaching activities and murder is in poor health.
One detainee says the refugees had to resort to the measure because they had no other choice.
The two suspects allegedly attacked Chinese police when stopped as part of security checks.
An exile Uyghur group casts doubt on official media reports of attempted suicide bombers.
Many are suffering from physical and psychological illnesses, Uyghur filmmaker says.