Xinjiang hit by more deadly violence

Official account says no members of public dead in Hotan but a resident says there were fatalities

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 5:12am

Xinjiang suffered another violent attack yesterday, two days after deadly clashes in the region that a Beijing official labelled a terrorist act.

Thirty-five people were killed on Wednesday in Lukqun township, Shanshan county, in Turpan prefecture. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying described the clashes as a terrorist attack.

"As to who masterminded it, local people are still investigating," she said yesterday.

Wednesday's violence came ahead of the fourth anniversary of clashes in Urumqi , capital of the autonomous region, between the Han majority and Uygurs that left nearly 200 people dead.

An exiled Uygur activist said Wednesday's violence started when police raided homes.

Dilxadi Raxiti, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uygur Congress, said residents in Lukqun had also been prevented from entering mosques for Friday prayers.

Information about yesterday's attack was sketchy, with conflicting reports from residents and official media.

News of the attack in the southern city of Hotan emerged late in the afternoon. A state television social media account said "the incident has been resolved and the number of casualties is being verified".

Xinhua said: "A violent attack occurred on a pedestrian street in downtown Hotan city." It cited "local authorities".

Tianshanet, the official news portal run by Xinjiang's publicity department, issued a report before midnight of an "armed gang fight" in a township under Hotan. It said the incident was soon subdued by police, "with no member of the public killed or hurt", and officers had detained suspects.

However, a Han Chinese resident of Hotan, who works near the scene of yesterday's attack, said: "There were several knife-wielding attackers hacking at people in the street in the city centre and several people were killed. But it was not clear how many were killed."

Police cordoned off the street, a popular shopping area, and telecommunications were cut off for two hours, the resident said.

"There were many police vehicles," she said. "Nobody dares walk on the streets now."

Two police stations near the street refused interview requests, while searches for "Hotan" in Chinese were blocked on the Sina Weibo microblog service. Repeated calls to a Xinjiang government spokesman for comment were unsuccessful.

Police also said a suspect was detained yesterday trying to scale a wall around a People's Armed Police base in Urumqi.

Additional reporting by Associated Press