22 attackers shot dead in Xinjiang violence as extremists wielding axes targeted civilians

Attack on government office and police station follows series of violent incidents in restive province

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 July, 2014, 4:01pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 July, 2014, 5:56pm

Twenty-two attackers were shot dead and a further 41 arrested in a terror attack in Xinjiang on Monday in which at least 10 civilians died, according to sources and a report from a local party conference.

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 in the early hours of Monday, Xinhua reported last night. Some attacked residents in neighbouring Huangdi township.

Local sources told the South China Morning Post that a conference was held among senior Xinjiang officials last night where 10 deaths and 13 injuries to civilians were reported. Six vehicles were also torched and another 31 sabotaged in the melee. No more details were given.

Police have described the incident as an “organised and premeditated” act of terror. They are still searching for other attackers.

The attack follows a series of violent incidents in Xinjiang 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.

Dilxat Rexit, a spokesman for exile group the World Uygur Congress, said 13 security personnel were killed or injured, citing what he described as a local source, Agence France-Presse reported.

Internet access in at least two counties in the Kashgar area was cut after the attack, local residents told the Post.

A local 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 the internal government report.

A resident in nearby Makit county said he learned that an attack took place on the highway from Shache to Kashgar at about 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.

Located near the border with Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, Kashgar is the biggest city in southern Xinjiang and the westernmost city in China.

The incidents occurred as the 10th Kashgar Central and South Asia Commodity Fair was being held. The three-day fair attracted about 1,600 businessmen and delegates of trade and commerce associations, including 446 from six foreign countries, including Pakistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, according to the organisers.