Law enforcement officers in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang shot dead 13 people described by the official Xinhua News Agency as “mobsters” who rammed a truck into a police station and set off explosives.
The assailants drove the vehicle into the public security bureau of Yecheng county, in the south of the region this morning, Xinhua said, citing the local government. No civilians were killed and three officers were injured it said.
China started a yearlong campaign against violence in Xinjiang, a region beset by tension between the Muslim Uighur minority and Han Chinese, after explosions killed 39 people and injured 94 on May 22. President Xi Jinping pledged to punish violence and “spare no effort” to maintain stability in the region.
The campaign will “make full use of political and legal force,” including the military and armed police, focusing on religious-extremist groups, terrorist training camps and illicit manufacturing of guns and explosives, Xinhua said at the time.
A group promoting human rights for the region’s Uighur population, attacked the police action.
“It is China’s set policy to oppress Uighurs by allowing armed personnel to directly fire on protesters,” Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the German-based group World Uighur Congress, wrote in an e-mail.
Public security authorities are investigating today’s attack and local social order is normal, Xinhua said.
Xinjiang is home to more than 10 million Uighurs, a mostly Muslim Turkic people who have long resented living under Chinese rule. Ethnic riots in 2009 in Urumqi, the provincial capital, left 197 people dead and more than 1,700 injured, according to state-run media.
Thirteen people were executed on June 16 in Xinjiang for terrorist attacks and violent crimes, according to a Xinhua report that day. A Chinese court sentenced three people to death the same day after convicting them of planning a fatal car crash near Beijing’s Tiananmen Square last year that was blamed on separatists.