Skip to main content

Report: 16 killed in clash in China's restive Xinjiang region

By CNN Staff
December 16, 2013 -- Updated 0600 GMT (1400 HKT)
Chinese policemen on patrol in this file photo taken in Kashgar, a city in China's volatile western region of Xinjiang.
Chinese policemen on patrol in this file photo taken in Kashgar, a city in China's volatile western region of Xinjiang.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: A Uyghur diaspora group says the people involved were "demonstrators"
  • NEW: Chinese authorities disagree, saying those involved were a "terrorist" gang
  • Two police officers and 14 other people were killed in a clash on Sunday
  • The violence took place in Xinjiang, a resource-rich Chinese region beset by unrest

Beijing (CNN) -- Sixteen people have been killed in violence in China's volatile western region of Xinjiang, state media reported Monday.

Two police officers chasing suspects came under attack late Sunday from people with machetes and explosive devices in Shufu county, near the city of Kashgar, said Tianshan, a news website run by the Xinjiang government.

In the clash that ensued, two police officers died and 14 "gang members" were shot and killed, Tianshan reported.

Deadly unrest frequently breaks out in Xinjiang, a large, resource-rich region that is home to the Uyghurs, a Turkic-speaking, predominantly Muslim ethnic group.

The arrival of waves of Han Chinese people over the decades has fueled tensions with the Uyghurs. Chinese authorities have cracked down heavily on violence involving Uyghurs, deepening resentment.

The details of violent clashes in Xinjiang often remain murky. Uyghur diaspora groups, like the World Uyghur Congress, have criticized the Chinese government for the lack of transparency over such events.

Police have detained six suspects, Tianshan reported in an update late Monday. It described the violence as "an organized and premeditated terrorist attack" carried out by a gang of 20 people, led by a person it named as Hesen Ismail, a Uyghur-sounding name.

The group "advocated extremist religious thoughts, produced explosive devices and guns, and tested explosives several times in a bid to plot terrorist attacks," the report said.

But the World Uyghur Congress disputed the government's account. It cited unidentified "sources on the ground" who told it that the 14 people shot and killed were Uyghur "demonstrators."

Two of them were teenagers who were killed by "indiscriminate shooting by the security forces," the organization alleged.

Luo Fuyong, a spokesman for the Xinjiang government, contested the World Uyghur Congress's version of events. He said that no teenagers were killed in the violence and that those involved weren't demonstrators, noting that the clash took place at 11 p.m.

He said he believed that all 14 people who were killed by police were Uyghurs.

CNN wasn't able to independently verify the different claims about what happened.

Chinese authorities have blamed Uyghurs for a vehicle attack in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in October that killed five people -- including the three in the vehicle -- and wounded 40 others.

Xinjiang's worst violence in decades took place in July 2009, when rioting in the capital, Urumqi, between Uyghurs and Han Chinese killed some 200 people and injured 1,700. That unrest was followed by a crackdown by security forces.

Several deadly clashes have been reported this year.

Xinjiang is now home to more than 8 million Han Chinese, up from 220,000 in 1949, and 10 million Uyghurs. The newcomers take most of the new jobs, and unemployment among Uyghurs is high.

They complain of discrimination and harsh treatment by security forces, despite official promises of equal rights and ethnic harmony.

Beijing accuses some Uyghur groups of trying to establish an independent state.

In November: Militant group says Tiananmen attack in China was 'jihadi operation'

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1113 GMT (1913 HKT)
A smuggler in Dandong, a Chinese border town near North Korea, tells CNN about the underground trade with North Korean soldiers
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 0654 GMT (1454 HKT)
Yenn Wong got quite a surprise one morning earlier this month when she found out an exact copy of her Hong Kong restaurant had opened in China.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 0315 GMT (1115 HKT)
When I first came across a "virtual lover" service on e-commerce site Taobao, China's version of Amazon, I thought it was hype.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
Each year Yi Jiefeng does what she can to stop China turning into a desert.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1454 GMT (2254 HKT)
As its relationship with the West worsen, Russia is pivoting east in an attempt to secure business with China.
October 8, 2014 -- Updated 0229 GMT (1029 HKT)
Aspiring Chinese comics performing in Shanghai's underground comedy scene hope to bring stand-up to the masses.
September 30, 2014 -- Updated 1654 GMT (0054 HKT)
Liu Wen is one of the world's highest-paid models and the first Chinese face to crack the top five in Forbes' annual list of top earners.
October 3, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
Cunning wolf? Working class hero? Or bland Beijing loyalist? C.Y. Leung was a relative unknown when he came to power in 2012.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
 A man uses his smartphone on July 16, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan. Only 53.5% of Japanese owned smartphones in March, according to a white paper released by the Ministry of Communications on July 15, 2014. The survey of a thousand participants each from Japan, the U.S., Britain, France, South Korea and Singapore, demonstrated that Japan had the fewest rate of the six; Singapore had the highest at 93.1%, followed by South Korea at 88.7%, UK at 80%, and France at 71.6%, and U.S. at 69.6% in the U.S. On the other hand, Japan had the highest percentage of regular mobile phone owners with 28.7%. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
App hopes to help those seeking a way out of China's overstrained public health system.
October 3, 2014 -- Updated 0020 GMT (0820 HKT)
Yards from pro-democracy protests, stands the Hong Kong garrison of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), China's armed forces.
October 2, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
The massive street rallies that have swept Hong Kong present a major dilemma for China's leadership.
September 27, 2014 -- Updated 0707 GMT (1507 HKT)
Chinese wine drinkers need to develop a taste for the cheap stuff, not just premium red wines like Lafite.
September 24, 2014 -- Updated 0109 GMT (0909 HKT)
The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, set off a media kerfuffle this month when he spoke about his next reincarnation.
September 28, 2014 -- Updated 1418 GMT (2218 HKT)
He's one of the fieriest political activists in Hong Kong — he's been called an "extremist" by China's state-run media — and he's not old enough to drive.
September 23, 2014 -- Updated 0257 GMT (1057 HKT)
China has no wine-making tradition but the country now uncorks more bottles of red than any other.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 0929 GMT (1729 HKT)
Christians in eastern China keep watch in Wenzhou, where authorities have demolished churches and removed crosses.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 0538 GMT (1338 HKT)
Home-grown hip-hop appeals to a younger generation but its popularity has not translated into record deals and profits for budding rap artists.
ADVERTISEMENT