Chinese police investigating a spate of attacks this month in Xinjiang shot dead six suspects and arrested three others, state media reported.
An exile group, meanwhile, accused police yesterday of gunning down the suspects, members of the Uighur ethnic minority, after they surrendered.
Police encountered nine suspects in a corn field near Kashgar on Friday evening, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
The suspects had knives and tried to resist arrest, putting up a “desperate struggle,” it said late on Friday.
A policeman and a local militia man were wounded in the clash, the report said.
Initial investigations linked the suspects to attacks on Aug. 12 and Wednesday, Xinhua said. The report gave no other details.
Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Germany-based World Uyghur Congress, said armed police surrounded the corn field and asked the Uighur men through a loudspeaker to surrender themselves, promising to provide them with lawyers.
The suspects did not resist arrest and police with submachine guns opened fire after they had surrendered, Raxit said in a statement yesterday, citing accounts by local Uighurs.
Meanwhile, an earthquake hit Sichuan Province yesterday, destroying homes and killing three people, state television reported.
The epicenter of the quake, which struck around 4:30pm, was about 30km southeast of Panzhihua, near the border with Yunnan Province, the US Geological Survey said. The quake was about 10km deep.
The US Geological Survey put the magnitude at 5.7, while Xinhua news agency said it measured 6.1.
“The death toll has risen to three in Huili County. A large number of houses have collapsed,” Qi Kaihong of the Huili County publicity department told China Central Television (CCTV).
A CCTV reporter in Kunming said there had been no reports of deaths or damage in the area.
Parts of Sichuan were devastated by an earthquake on May 12 that killed tens of thousands.