China Says 28 Foreign-Led 'Terrorists' Killed In Hunt For Xinjiang Mine Attackers
November 20, 2015
Chinese state media say police have killed all but one of 29 alleged 'terrorists' suspected in an attack at a coal mine that killed at least five police officers in the far western Xinjiang region, home to the predominantly Muslim and ethnically Turkic Uyghurs.
The Xinjiang regional government's Tianshan web portal reported on November 20 that the suspects were killed during a 56-day manhunt after a knife attack at the Sogan colliery in Aksu on September 18 that killed 11 civilians and five police officers.
The reports marked the first official confirmation of the bloody attack at the mine, which was first reported by Radio Free Asia days after the incident.
'After 56 days of continuous fighting, Xinjiang destroyed a violent terrorist gang directly under the command of a foreign extremist group,' the government-run Xinjiang Daily reported. 'Aside from one person who surrendered, 28 thugs were completely annihilated.'
The newspaper said that two individuals who appeared to have Uyghur names were leaders of the purported foreign group, which it did not name.
Tensions between native Muslim Uyghurs and the Han Chinese living in Xinjiang have resulted in violence in recent years that has killed hundreds of people.
The bloodshed has been blamed by Chinese officials on Islamic militants.
Exiled Uyghur groups and human rights activists say China's repressive policies in Xinjiang, which include strict controls on Islam and Uyghur culture, have provoked the unrest.
Along with Uyghurs, Xinjiang has indigenous populations of ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and Tajiks who live mainly in districts bordering those three Central Asian countries.
Uyghurs routinely receive lengthy sentences or are executed after Central Asian states send them back to China.
Kazakhstan has repatriated several Chinese citizens of Uyghur origin who were seeking Kazakh asylum, earning criticism from domestic and international human rights organizations.
The Tianshan portal reported that police mobilized some 10,000 people of 'various ethnic groups' to assist in the search for the coal mine attackers.
Radio Free Asia cited government and local sources as saying earlier this week that authorities had killed 17 suspects, including seven women and children.
China's ruling Communist Party tightly restricts access to the restive Xinjiang, and information is difficult to independently verify.
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, AP, and Radio Free Asia
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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