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Report: Extremist groups busted in northwest China

By CNN Staff
updated 8:59 PM EDT, Sun May 25, 2014
Fully armed Chinese paramilitary police patrol a street in Urumqi, Xinjiang.
Fully armed Chinese paramilitary police patrol a street in Urumqi, Xinjiang.

(CNN) -- Police in northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region have busted 23 "terror and religious extremism groups and caught over 200 suspects," state news agency Xinhua reported, citing the regional public security department.

This comes as China embarks on a crackdown against terror in the volatile region amid a recent series of attacks, including blasts in an open-air market in the city of Urumqi.

Xinjiang attacks shifting to civilians
Tensions in western China

Police busted groups in the region's Hotan, Kashgar and Aksu prefectures, where "the majority of the population" are Muslim Uyghurs, Xinhua said. Authorities seized more than 200 explosive devices in the raids, according to the state news agency.

Ethnic tensions between Uyghurs and Han Chinese people, millions of whom have migrated to resource-rich Xinjiang in recent decades, have repeatedly boiled over into deadly riots and clashes with authorities in recent years.

Some Uyghurs have expressed resentment over what they say is harsh treatment from Chinese security forces and Han people taking the lion's share of economic opportunities in Xinjiang. The Han are the predominant ethnic group in China, making up more than 90% of the overall population.

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