Ethnic clashes in China leave a dozen dead

Clashes left a dozen people dead in a region of northwestern China that sees periodic violence between Muslim Uighurs and majority Han Chinese, with the latest unrest flaring at a sensitive time just ahead of the national legislature.

BEIJING — Clashes left a dozen people dead in a region of northwestern China that sees periodic violence between Muslim Uighurs and majority Han Chinese, with the latest unrest flaring at a sensitive time just ahead of the national legislature.

The bloodshed late Tuesday in the Xinjiang region’s Yecheng county was triggered by what state media called either “rioters” or “terrorists” with knives who killed 10 people. Police fatally shot two of the assailants, the reports said.

A spokesman for an overseas Uighur group described the violence as a clash between local Uighurs and armed Chinese security personnel.

The government has failed to win over Uighurs and other ethnic minorities through policies to boost economic growth and incomes as it increases police presence and controls religious practices to deter displays of separatism.

China’s ethnic Tibetan regions have also been unsettled in recent months by scattered demonstrations and clashes with authorities, as well as monks and nuns setting themselves on fire in protest against the government’s policies.

The uptick in unrest comes as security nationwide is being tightened to prevent any incidents that would mar the annual sessions of a top government advisory body and the national legislature, which begin this weekend.

The Xinhua News Agency said the rioters attacked victims with knives in Yecheng county, about 250 kilometres southeast of the city of Kashgar, starting at about 6 p.m. They killed 10 people and police shot two assailants to death, the report said.

Xinhua said police were chasing others involved in the attacks but did not say how many suspects there were.

A Communist Party official in Yecheng county, who declined to give his name, later said that all the rioters had been captured by police, but he refused to answer further questions. Calls to police offices in Yecheng went unanswered.

Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the German-based World Uyghur Congress, said that local Uighurs told him seven armed Chinese security personnel were killed and three people were shot to death. He said two additional people were killed but did not provide any detail of those deaths. He said 10 people were injured, including two seriously hurt, and police have detained 84 people. Police have sealed off the area, he said.

Dilxat said the violence in Yecheng — which Uighurs call Kargilik — erupted because local residents “could no longer bear China’s systematic repression,” and have been denied outlets for peaceful protest.

Censors blocked postings about the attack on Twitter-like microblogs. Searches on Sina Corporation’s popular Weibo service returned the message: “In accordance with relevant laws, regulations and policies, ’Xinjiang Yecheng’ search results were not shown.”

Sporadic attacks occur in Xinjiang — a region of oil and gas deposits, vast deserts and towering mountains that abuts Central Asia — despite a smothering security presence imposed following 2009 riots in the regional capital of Urumqi that left almost 200 people dead.

The riots pitted Uighurs against migrants from China’s majority Han.

Xinjiang saw more deadly violence last summer, when a group of Uighurs stormed a police station in the city of Hotan on July 18 and took hostages, killing four. On July 30 and 31, Uighurs in Kashgar hijacked a truck, set a restaurant on fire and stabbed people in the street. Authorities said 14 of the attackers were shot by police in Hotan, and five assailants were killed in the violence in Kashgar.

China says those events were organized terror attacks, but overseas Uighur groups say they were anti-government riots carried out by angry citizens. Uighur activists and security analysts blame the violence on economic marginalization and restrictions on Uighur culture and the Muslim religion that are breeding frustration and anger among young Uighurs.

Chinese authorities have offered little evidence to back up their claims of outside involvement and rarely provide details on arrests or punishment of the suspects. Tight information controls and the remoteness of the area, more than 3,500 kilometres west of Beijing, ensure that the circumstances surrounding such incidents often remain murky.

Just Posted

Grassroots movement to clean up Red Deer is gaining momentum

Homeless people need more attention than shopping carts, says former councillor Cindy Jefferies

Improving life for people with Alzheimer’s and their families is a priority for Raitt

The federal Conservatives deputy leader is dealing with the disease in her own home

PHOTO: International Peace Day

Visitors broke bread, made crafts and trading cards at a gathering marking… Continue reading

Snowfall warning issued for Central Alberta

Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for Central Alberta Friday afternoon. Warning… Continue reading

POLL: Most Red Deerians don’t want cell phones in the classroom

Sixty-six per cent of Advocate readers who responded to an on-line poll… Continue reading

Updated: Grey Cup in Red Deer to raise funds for military families

Money raised will go to the Military Family Resource Centre and be used locally

Saskatchewan RCMP charge man in abduction that sparked Amber Alert last Sunday

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Saskatchewan RCMP have arrested a man following an… Continue reading

One dead following police-involved shooting in Burlington, Ont.

BURLINGTON, Ont. — Ontario’s police watchdog says a 32-year-old man was shot… Continue reading

Several injured as Tornado tears through Ottawa and Gatineau, Que.

OTTAWA — A tornado ripped through the Ottawa area Friday afternoon, damaging… Continue reading

B.C. wildfires burned large areas affected by mountain pine beetles: Experts

VANCOUVER — Clearing or burning beetle ravaged forests may be costly but… Continue reading

Dustin Byfuglien scores in overtime, Jets beat Flames 4-3 in pre-season

WINNIPEG — Bryan Little tied the game late in the third and… Continue reading

Mistrial denied in Calgary murder trial over jury’s visit to hotel Denny’s

CALGARY — A Calgary judge has denied a request for a mistrial… Continue reading

Former Canadian astronaut says space shuttle is a vehicle of hope

OTTAWA — Sending messages of hope from space is a big part… Continue reading

Canada requests trade panel on uncoated groundwood paper ruling by U.S.

OTTAWA — Canada has requested a NAFTA trade panel review a U.S.… Continue reading

Most Read