Clash in China's Xinjiang killed 20: exile group
July 19, 2011
Twenty protesters from China's minority Uighur community
were killed in a clash with police in the ethnically
tense northwestern region of Xinjiang, a Uighur exile
group said Tuesday.
State media quoted an official in the region calling
Monday's clash a "terrorist" attack and said four people
including a police officer were killed when a crowd set
upon a police station in the remote city of Hotan.
But Uighur activists called it an outburst of anger by
ordinary members of the mainly Muslim ethnic minority,
and accused authorities of attempting to block
information on the deadly incident.
The Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, citing sources
in Xinjiang, said security forces beat 14 people to
death and shot dead six others during the unrest.
"The Chinese authorities should immediately cease their
systematic oppression to prevent a further escalation of
the situation," said Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the
The state-run Xinhua news agency quoted an unnamed local
official saying police had "gunned down" 14 people who
attacked the police station, though the report did not
say clearly whether they had been killed.
Six civilians were taken hostage in the attack, Xinhua
Xinjiang has been plagued by violent unrest in recent
years, culminating in savage Uighur attacks on members
of China's dominant Han group in the regional capital
Urumqi in July 2009.
Raxit said the latest incident erupted after a group of
Uighurs tried to seize a number of police officers as
leverage in their demands for the release of family
members detained previously.
The attackers also set fire to the police station,
located near the city's bustling bazaar, reports said.
The situation in Hotan, an ancient oasis trading post on
the famed Silk Road, remained tense after the attack,
with police sealing off roads in and out of the city and
"large numbers" of anti-Chinese flyers circulating,
Raxit said in an emailed statement.
The flyers demanded the release of detained people,
rejected the growing influence of the Han and called for
independence, he said.
Xinjiang -- a vast, arid but resource-rich region
bordering Central Asia -- is home to more than eight
million Turkic-speaking Uighurs.
Many are unhappy with what they say has been decades of
repressive rule by Beijing and unwanted Han immigration.
The government says nearly 200 people were killed and
1,700 injured in the 2009 riots in Urumqi -- China's
worst ethnic violence in decades -- which shattered the
authoritarian Communist Party's claims of harmony and
unity among the country's dozens of ethnic groups.
China threw a huge security clampdown on Xinjiang after
the violence and many Uighurs are angry over the arrests
or alleged disappearances of people rounded up across
the region in the aftermath.
In Hotan, at least 70 people have been detained after
Monday's incident and authorities were continuing to
hunt down other suspects, Raxit said.
Police and government staff in Hotan declined to comment
on the situation there Tuesday.
Raxit said 15 people were hurt, three of them seriously.
China has seen similar large-scale anti-Chinese protests
or rioting by Tibetans in 2008, and by ethnic Mongols in
the northern Inner Mongolia region in May this year.
In March 2008, authorities in Hotan, which also is
variously known as Khotan or as Hetian in Chinese, said
extremist forces tried to incite an uprising in a
marketplace. Uighur exiles said up to 1,000 people were
involved in two protests.