(Adds exiled Uighur group comment)
By Adam Jourdan
SHANGHAI, June 21 Chinese police shot dead 13
attackers in the restive far-western region of Xinjiang on
Saturday after they rammed a car into a police station and
detonated explosives, Xinhua news agency said, in the latest of
a series of attacks to worry Beijing.
China has been toughening its response to violent crime
after a spate of attacks around the country, centred on
Xinjiang, the traditional home of Muslim Uighurs.
China has blamed previous attacks on Islamist separatists in
the region, who they say are looking to establish an independent
state there called East Turkestan. It was not immediately clear
who was responsible for Saturday's violence.
"The gangsters drove a truck to ram the building of the
public security bureau of Yecheng County in southern Xinjiang
and set off explosives. Police shot and killed 13 attackers at
the scene," Xinhua said, adding that three police were slightly
In 2012, seven attackers were shot dead after killing 13
people in a knife attack in Yecheng, also known by its Uighur
name of Kargilik, a remote town on the road leading to China's
mountainous border with Pakistan.
China has been on edge since a suicide bombing last month
killed 39 people at a market in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi. In
March, 29 people were stabbed to death at a train station in the
southwestern city of Kunming.
The rise in violence has prompted a crackdown on violent
crime. Authorities in Xinjiang have arrested dozens of suspects
in recent weeks for spreading extremist propaganda, possessing
banned weapons and other crimes.
China also executed over a dozen people for terrorist
attacks in the region earlier this month and three for an attack
on Beijing's central Tiananmen Square.
Resource-rich and strategically located on the borders of
central Asia, Xinjiang has been plagued by violence for years,
but exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say the
government's own repressive policies in Xinjiang have provoked
unrest, something Beijing denies.
"The crackdown against the Uighur population is making it
hard for people to bear," Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the World
Uyghur Congress, the largest group of exiled Uighurs, told
Reuters by email.
"Opening fire and killing those resisting, and accusing them
of terrorism while skirting the root causes, this will only lead
to the situation in the region becoming worse."
President Xi Jinping said earlier this year that the Kashgar
region, which sits in the far west of Xinjiang, was "the front
line in anti-terrorism". The Silk Road city of Kashgar has been
at the centre of much of the unrest. Yecheng is in the Kashgar
prefecture, and is more than 1,500 km southwest of Urumqi.
Chinese leaders have also been directing investment into
Xinjiang. Xi pledged last month to alleviate poverty and improve
ethnic unity in the region, the most direct indication yet that
China's leaders want to address the causes of violence.
(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Additional reporting by Ben
Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Nick