37 Civilians And 59 Attackers Killed In One Of The Worst Outbreaks Of Violence In Xinjiang

Almost 100 people were killed during attacks on a police station and government offices in China's far western region of Xinjiang early last week, state media said Sunday, giving fresh details on one of the worst incidents of unrest in years.

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Last week, Chinese police forces gunned down 59 people and arrested another 215 during a violent uprising in China's far western Xinjiang region that left almost 100 dead, the government said

Chinese soldiers march near the Id Kah mosque in Kashgar on 31 July amid increased security in Xinjiang province

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Almost 100 people were killed during attacks on a police station and government offices in China's far western region of Xinjiang early last week, state media said Sunday, giving fresh details on one of the worst incidents of unrest in years.

The incident happened on 28 July, but this is the first definitive death toll released by Xinhua news agency which says 215 attackers armed with knives and axes were arrested after they stormed a police station and government offices

Police in China's Xianjiang region have stepped up security after unrest earlier this year

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State media had reported the incident a day later, saying dozens of people had been killed when knife-wielding attackers had staged assaults in two towns in the region. It is unclear why the government waited so long to announce detailed casualties, though bad news has sometimes been covered up or delayed in the past.

Due to tight security, visits by foreign journalists are very difficult, making an independent assessment of the situation almost impossible

Chinese soldiers in front of the Id Kah Mosque, in Kashgar, on Thursday. China has increased security in many parts of Xinjiang

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"This was a serious terrorist attack incident which has links to domestic and overseas terrorist organisations and was organised, premeditated, carefully planned and evil," the Xinjiang government said on its official news website ( in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The agency said the new figures emerged from a high-level meeting of the Communist Party over the weekend in Xinjiang

The new figures illustrate the seriousness of continued violence in China's largely Muslim region of Xinjiang that abuts Central Asia and where more minor clashes are reported weekly.

If the new figures are correct, then it would make last Monday's incident one of the worst outbreaks of violence in Xinjiang in recent years, notes BBC

The report said assailants displayed banners declaring a "holy war" and were coordinated by a banned group called East Turkestan Islamic Movement that China's government says aims to make Xinjiang independent. Sunday's report said civilians were stopped at roadblocks and slashed with knives if they refused to join the rally.

The report identified the mastermind of the attack as Nuramat Sawut, whom Xinhua described as the local leader of the movement and responsible in the past year for spreading audio and video calls for separatism and religious extremism

Mr. Sawut wasn't reachable and Xinhua's report didn't say whether he specifically participated in the attacks. The report didn't say where overseas the group had obtained assistance, though in the past China's government has cited training of separatists by religious extremists in Pakistan.

The last week's clash, near the city of Yarkand, took place a day before the mostly Muslim area was set to celebrate the end of Ramadan

State media said assailants with knives rampaged through town slashing people and smashing symbols of government power. In its initial reporting on the incident, Xinhua had said dozens of civilians were killed while at least 36 cars were smashed or set on fire. The initial report also called it "an organized, premeditated and carefully planned terrorist attack of vile nature and tremendous violence."

Later in the week, assailants, identified by Chinese authorities as Uighurs, knifed to death the government-appointed imam of Id Kah Mosque in the nearby city of Kashgar. On Friday, police in Xinjiang had shot dead nine suspected terrorists and captured another in Xinjiang's Hotan's Prefecture.

Tensions between Uighurs and Han Chinese migrants have been growing for several years, with some Uighurs opposing Chinese rule in Xinjiang

Assassinated: Juma Tayir, the imam of Kashgar's Id Kah mosque, was allegedly killed by separatists

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In recent months, there has been an upsurge in Xinjiang-linked violence that authorities have attributed to Uighur separatists and authorities have stepped up security operations in the region.

Last Wednesday, the imam of China's largest mosque, in the city of Kashgar in Xinjiang, died after reportedly being stabbed after morning prayers. Jume Tahir, 74, had been appointed imam of the 600-year-old mosque by China's ruling Communist Party and he was a vocal public supporter of Chinese policies in the region.