BEIJING: Forty “rioters” were killed Sunday in China’s far-western Xinjiang region after a series of coordinated explosions, state media said Thursday.
Six civilians, two police officers and two auxiliary police were also killed in the attacks in Xinjiang’s Luntai county, with 54 civilians injured, according to Tianshan, the regional government news portal.
Two “rioters” were captured, it added, while the main suspect, whose name was given as Mamat Tursun, was shot dead.
Chinese state media had previously stated that only two people had been killed in the incident. China’s ruling Communist Party tightly restricts access to the restive region, and information is difficult to independently verify.
According to the Tianshan report, the “organised and serious” attack comprised four explosions that took place Sunday evening at two police stations, an outdoor market and at the entrance to a shop.
Among the 54 civilians injured were 32 members of China’s mostly Muslim Uighur minority and 22 Han Chinese, it said.
The 40 “rioters” killed had either blown themselves up or were shot dead by police, Tianshan said.
Police found that Mamat Tursun, the ringleader of Sunday’s attack, had “been operating as an extremist” since 2003 and had “called on other people to join his terrorist group when working on construction projects”, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
In the past year, escalating violence between locals and security forces in Xinjiang — the traditional homeland of the Uighurs’ — has claimed more than 200 lives and prompted Beijing to launch a security crackdown.
Beijing blames ongoing unrest in the region on organized terrorists seeking independence from China, while rights groups say cultural and religious repression of Uighurs has stoked violence.