Tensions ran high in China’s remote Kashgar city yesterday after authorities shot dead two men suspected of fomenting deadly ethnic unrest and vowed a further crackdown on “religious extremists.”
Police killed the men, both from the mainly Muslim Uighur minority that makes up about half the population of China’s northwestern Xinjiang region, late on Monday as they were trying to capture the pair, Kashgar authorities said.
The deaths bring to 21 the number of people reported killed in Kashgar, a famed city on the ancient Silk Road in Xinjiang, since the weekend in the latest bout of unrest stemming from Uighur frustration at Chinese rule.
Thirteen civilians died in the two weekend attacks, one of which hit a busy restaurant.
Yesterday, pools of blood and overturned tables could still be seen at the restaurant, where diners were forced to flee in panic from attackers wielding knives.
The other six dead were alleged attackers, some of whom were trained in “terrorist” camps in Pakistan, according to Chinese authorities.
Armed police stood guard yesterday outside the main mosque in Kashgar — China’s biggest — as Muslim residents in the city observed the holy month of Ramadan.
There was a heavy police presence and the streets of the city remained quiet after the weekend attacks, but some shops and -businesses had reopened yesterday.
Xinjiang’s government has pledged to “firmly punish violent terrorists” and “crack down on religious extremists” in the wake of the attacks, which came just weeks after deadly clashes in Hotan, another city in the vast region.
Chinese authorities said on Monday that an attack on a restaurant on Sunday was the work of “terrorists” trained in neighboring Pakistan, but some experts have questioned the claim of foreign involvement.