An attack on police stations and a government building in China’s Xinjiang province today left 27 people dead, state media reported, in one of the deadliest outbreaks of violence in the region in four years.
Nine security officials in Lukqun township were killed along with eight civilians before police opened fire and killed 10 “rioters,” who also attacked a construction site, the official Xinhua News Agency reported, citing local Communist Party officials it didn’t identify.
The township is east of the Xinjiang capital of Urumqi, where almost 200 people died in clashes between ethnic Uighurs and majority Han Chinese in 2009. In April, 21 people were killed, including local officials and police, in a clash that broke out when officials uncovered a weapons cache.
While about 90 percent of China is ethnic Han, more than 40 percent of Xinjiang’s 22 million people are Uighurs, some of whom have protested the Beijing government’s decades-long policy of encouraging Han migration to the area.
“The continuing repression and provocation is a reason for the conflict,” Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, said in an e-mail. “The international community should take immediate steps to request China stop all policies that cause unrest.”
The Munich-based group wants Xinjiang to become an independent country called East Turkestan. Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, declined to comment on the incident when asked about it today at a press conference in Beijing.
Three people injured in today’s violence were being treated in the hospital, and police arrested three others, Xinhua reported.