Dozens of axe-wielding attackers shot dead by police during attacks in Xinjiang
Assailants wielding axes are shot dead by police during ‘organised and premeditated’ violence
Dozens of people, ethnic Han and Uygur, were killed or injured in at least one terror attack in the restive Xinjiang region early on Monday, state media reported late last night.
Xinhua said that a group of assailants, wielding knives and axes, attacked the government office and police station in Elixku township in Kashgar's Yarkand, or Shache, county.
Some attacked residents in neighbouring Huangdi township, the report said.
Police said they shot dead dozens of the attackers, describing the incident as an "organised and premeditated" act of terror.
At least six vehicles were torched and another 25 sabotaged.
The attack follows a series of violent incidents in Xinjiang and elsewhere in recent months.
Beijing has blamed extremists seeking independence for the region, while exiled Uygur groups and human rights activists say government curbs on the ethnic group's language, religion and culture have inflamed tensions.
The report did not give an exact number of casualties from Monday's incident.
Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uygur Congress, an exile group, said in an e-mail that more than 20 Uygurs were shot dead by armed authorities while 10 were injured, Agence France-Presse reported.
A total of 13 security personnel were killed or injured, he said, citing what he described as a local source, and about 67 people were arrested.
Internet access in at least two counties in the Kashgar area was cut after the attack, local residents told the South China Morning Post.
Local sources confirmed to the Post that there had been an incident in Shache.
A local media source said a bus to Kashgar was taken over by "terrorists" on Monday afternoon to distract police and keep them busy while attacks took place elsewhere, citing an internal government report. The source did not say whether anyone was injured.
A resident in nearby Makit county said he learned that an attack took place on the highway from Shache to Kashgar at around 5pm and that "dozens" were said to be injured or wounded.
A Shache hotel worker said: "There were attacks in the villages outside Shache, but we were asked not to discuss it … Internet access has been cut off, both for our mobile phones and at home."
Shache and Makit are under Kashgar's administration, and the area has been hit by several violent incidents in recent years. Last month, police shot dead 13 people who attacked a police station in Yecheng county, also near Kashgar.
Additional reporting by Keith Zhai, Patrick Boehler and Erin Hale