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8 people killed in violence in China's Xinjiang region

By Jethro Mullen and Kevin Wang, CNN
updated 2:04 AM EST, Mon December 30, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Police officers shoot and kill eight people and arrest one other, authorities say
  • The people attacked a police station in the volatile region of Xinjiang, they say
  • The region is beset by unrest involving the Uyghur ethnic group

(CNN) -- Police shot and killed eight people who attacked a police station in Xinjiang, a restive region in northwestern China, authorities said Monday.

Nine people armed with knives threw explosives at the building and set police cars on fire, the Xinjiang government said on its official news website. One of the people was taken into custody, the statement said, describing the attackers as "thugs."

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The violence took place around 6:30 a.m. in Yarkant County in western Xinjiang and is under investigation, authorities said.

It's the latest outbreak of deadly unrest in Xinjiang, a large, resource-rich region that is home to the Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking, predominantly Muslim ethnic group.

Earlier this month, a clash in the region left 14 Uyghurs and two police officers dead, authorities said. Chinese officials said the two police officers came under attack as they were trying to apprehend suspects.

The arrival in Xinjiang of waves of Han Chinese people over the decades has fueled tensions with the Uyghurs. Chinese authorities have cracked down heavily on violence involving Uyghurs, deepening resentment.

The government statement about Monday's clash didn't specify the ethnicity of the people who fought with police.

The details of violent encounters in Xinjiang often remain murky. Uyghur diaspora groups, like the World Uyghur Congress, have criticized the Chinese government for the lack of transparency over such events.

Chinese authorities have blamed Uyghurs for a vehicle attack in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in October that killed five people -- including the three in the vehicle -- and wounded 40 others.

Xinjiang's worst violence in decades took place in July 2009, when rioting in the capital, Urumqi, between Uyghurs and Han Chinese killed some 200 people and injured 1,700. That unrest was followed by a crackdown by security forces.

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