18 people 'surrender' over attacks in Xinjiang
State media reported yesterday that 18 people who took part in violence that killed dozens in Xinjiang have handed themselves in to the police.
The authorities said a group of assailants attacked people on a highway and at a police station and government buildings in Shache county in the Kashgar area on July 28, killing 37 victims before police shot dead 59 of the attackers.
Of the 37 civilians who were killed, 35 were Han Chinese and two were Uygur, according to Xinhua. No information on the attackers has been released.
The Xinjiang Daily, the region's official newspaper, said 18 people had since surrendered.
It said most of them were "ordinary people", some of whom had been coerced into taking part in the violence without knowing the reasons for it.
Dilxat Rexit, spokesman for the exiled World Uygur Congress, said the "so-called surrenders" were made in order to avoid death at the hands of armed police. Amid a manhunt for the participants in the violence, armed forces encircled a corn field where 18 farmers, the youngest of whom was 15, had retreated and were shooting in the air.
Neither account could be verified. The Shache incident appeared to be the most serious single instance of bloodshed in Xinjiang since riots broke out in 2009 that left nearly 200 dead.
However, overseas Uygurs activists disputed the official version of events, saying police killed Uygurs who had been protesting against a security crackdown during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The regional government last week said it had arrested 215 people over the attack.
Associated Press, Reuters