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13 attackers die in assault on police station in ethnic Muslim region of China

By CNN Staff
June 22, 2014 -- Updated 0155 GMT (0955 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Three police officers were injured when the attackers crashed a truck into the building
  • The region is home to many Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim ethnic group
  • Chinese authorities blame the violence on Islamist extremism
  • But rights activists say Uyghurs face harsh discrimination

(CNN) -- Thirteen people died while attacking a police station in China's Uyghur region of Xinjiang Saturday, Chinese state news agency Xinhua reported.

Three police officers were also injured, when the attackers crashed a truck laden with explosives into a security building in Yecheng County and detonated them.

Xinjiang attacks shifting to civilians
Explosions in Xinjiang region of China
Tensions in western China

The dead were all attackers; the police officers suffered minor injuries, Xinhua reported.

Xinjiang is home to many Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim ethnic group.

The region is plagued by violent attacks, which Chinese authorities say has its roots in Islamic extremism.

Other critics, including exiled Uyghur activists, have attributed the rise of violence in Xinjiang to Beijing's increasingly repressive rule there -- a claim the government strongly denies.

Amnesty International has said that Uyghurs face widespread discrimination in employment, housing and educational opportunities, as well as curtailed religious freedom and political marginalization.

In the region's deadliest violent incident in recent history, a suicide bombing last month killed 39 people at a street market in the city of Urumqi. Another apparent suicide bombing left three dead in April at an Urumqi train station.

In March, 29 people were stabbed to death by alleged Uyghur separatists at a train station in the southwestern city of Kunming.

The Chinese government has responded by launching a massive anti-terrorism campaign as well as pouring more economic resources into Xinjiang.

CNN's Brian Walker and Steven Jiang contributed to this report

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