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Islamic separatists blamed for attacks in northwest China

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 14 people are killed and 42 others are wounded in two incidents
  • The local government blames the East Turkistan Islamic Movement
  • The group is considered a terrorist organization by China and the United Nations
  • China's Uyghur region was the site of ethnic violence in 2009 that killed nearly 200
RELATED TOPICS
  • China
  • Kashi
  • Islamism

Beijing (CNN) -- Weekend violence in northwest China left at least 14 people dead and more than 40 injured as authorities searched for additional suspects in a pair of attacks, a government official said Monday.

Local officials blamed the violence on an Islamic separatist group.

An explosion in the city of Kashi in China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Sunday killed six people, said Hou Hanmin, a regional government spokesman. The blast also injured 15 people, including three police, Hou said.

Kashi -- as the city is called in Chinese -- is also known as Kashgar in the Uyghur language.

On Saturday, a knifing spree in the same city started when two men stabbed a truck driver, took control of the vehicle and drove into pedestrians, China's state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The men then hopped out of the truck and attacked bystanders before locals subdued them.

Eight people died in Saturday's violence, Hou said. One suspect was killed in the fighting, and another was apprehended.

Twenty-seven people were wounded in Saturday's stabbings.

Authorities believe several suspects were behind the attacks. All of the suspects are Uyghurs, Hou said. Arrest warrants have been issued for two suspects.

The area has seen tension between China's Uyghur, a Turkic ethnic population of Muslim faith, and ethnic Han Chinese; violence in 2009 killed nearly 200 people and injured 1,800 others.

An initial probe blamed East Turkistan Islamic Movement for the attacks, saying the group's leaders had learned how to make explosives and firearms in Pakistan before entering the region, the Kashi government said in a statement online.

The U.S. State Department considers the group a terrorist organization, as does China and the United Nations.

In a written statement Monday, Pakistan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs office said all incidents of terrorism are "deplorable."

"Pakistan will continue to extend its full cooperation and support to the Government of the People's Republic of China against the ETIM," the statement said.

The violence came less than two weeks after an attack on a police station in another town in the same region that killed four people, including two police officers.

CNN's Reza Sayah contributed to this report.