China’s Xinjiang region was hit by a wave of violence at the weekend that saw 10 people killed by knife-wielding assailants and another four shot dead by police, state media and authorities said yesterday.
The unrest happened in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar in two separate attacks and local residents said yesterday the city center was under lockdown, with security forces patrolling the streets.
Xinjiang has seen several outbreaks of ethnic violence in recent years as the mainly Muslim Uighur minority bridles under what it regards as oppression by the Chinese government.
In the first attack on Saturday evening, seven people were killed and 28 others hurt at a night market by two attackers with knives, one of whom was later killed in violence, the authorities said.
Hou Hanmin (侯漢敏), spokeswoman for the government of the northwestern region, said the attackers were both Uighurs, adding the suspect who was still alive had been detained.
“The case is still under investigation, so I don’t have more information,” she said.
Yesterday, three people were “hacked to death” by “rioters,” Xinhua news agency said.
It had earlier reported they died in an explosion, but a follow-up report left it unclear whether there had been a blast or not.
A posting on China’s Twitter-like Weibo service by a producer from China Central Television, China’s state television station, said gunshots were heard, not an explosion.
Police shot dead four suspects allegedly involved in the attack and detained four others, Xinhua said, while another four were on the run.
The agency said more than 10 bystanders and police officers were also injured. The government spokeswoman was not available when contacted about yesterday’s bout of violence.
A receptionist at a restaurant near a street where yesterday’s violence took place said the road had been blocked off.
“Neither cars nor pedestrian are allowed to enter. There are police patrolling everywhere,” the receptionist said.
A hotel receptionist described the current situation in Kashgar as a “mess.”
According to tianshannet.com, a Web site run by the regional government, the suspects in Saturday’s attack hijacked a truck that was waiting at a light at the food market in Kashgar, not far from the border with Kyrgyzstan.
They killed the driver, plowed the vehicle into passers-by on a nearby pavement, then got out of the truck and stabbed people at random, leaving six bystanders dead before the crowd turned on them and killed one attacker.
Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress — an exile group — cited local sources as saying the assailants had clashed with members of a civilian force that maintains public security.
He did not give specific details of yesterday’s attack, but called for China to “immediately stop its long-term, systematic repressive measures ... to prevent further unrest.”
Raxit said at least 100 Uighurs had been detained following Saturday’s incident.