Skip to main content

Chinese riot police out in force after Xinjiang violence

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Police shot and killed two suspects on Monday, state media says
  • 14 died in weekend violence in the city of Kashi, or Kashgar, it says
  • The government blames Muslim extremists
  • The Xinjiang region has seen increased tension between ethnic Uyghurs and Han Chinese

Beijing (CNN) -- Businesses remained shuttered Tuesday as riot police patrolled the streets of a remote northwestern Chinese city where at least 14 people were killed in weekend violence blamed on Muslim militants, state media said.

The top government official in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region vowed a severe crackdown on the instigators of the violence. On Monday, police shot and killed two suspects, both ethnic Uyghurs.

Memtieli Tiliwaldi and Turson Hasan had fled after an attack on a restaurant Sunday in Kashi, the state-run China Daily newspaper said. Kashi is known as Kashgar in the Uyghur language.

Police killed five other suspects at the scene Sunday, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.

The Kashi government blamed the weekend attacks, which also injured 42 people, on religious extremists trained in overseas camps, China Daily said. Xinjiang borders eight nations, including Pakistan and Afghanistan.

However, the Uyghur American Association said China's allegations of terrorism involving Uyghurs are made with "little documentation and without allowing independent scrutiny of such claims."

The group said it "unequivocally opposes any form of violence" and the most recent incidents "will only serve to heighten ethnic tensions and increase the suppression of the Uyghur people."

Those tensions already run deep in sparsely populated, resource-rich Xinjiang.

After a decades-long influx of the majority Han Chinese, the Turkic-speaking Uyghurs make up only 46 percent of the region's population.

Uyghurs complain they are subjected to discrimination by the Han Chinese, despite government promises of equal rights and ethnic harmony.

Violence in 2009 killed nearly 200 people and injured 1,800 others.

The Kashi government blamed the separatist East Turkistan Islamic Movement for the weekend attacks. In an online statement, the government said ETIM leaders had learned how to make explosives and firearms in Pakistan before entering the region.

The U.S. State Department considers ETIM a terrorist organization, as does China and the United Nations.

In a written statement Monday, Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs office said all incidents of terrorism are "deplorable."

"Pakistan will continue to extend its full cooperation and support to the government of the People's Republic of China against the ETIM," the statement said.

In the attack on the downtown Kashi spicy chicken and noodles restaurant, witnesses told Xinhua attackers killed the owner and then burned down the eatery. They then robbed firearms from the local police station and exchanged fire with police officers and randomly attacked people with knives, Xinhua said.

This weekend's violence came less than two weeks after an attack on a police station in another town in the same region that killed four people, including two police officers.