BEIJING (AP) — Authorities in western China blamed a group of religious extremists for an attack on police last week that left 11 of the suspects dead and wounded four people.
The violence Friday in Xinjiang’s Wushi county was the latest in a series of attacks pointing to growing unrest in the region, which is home to a simmering rebellion against Chinese rule among the ethnic minority Muslim Uighurs. China typically says the attacks are the work of Uighur separatists inspired by radical Islam. Critics say oppressive Chinese policies and strict religious controls fuel the violence.
A brief report posted Sunday on the regional government’s news website, which is run by the Communist Party, said a man named Mehmut Tohti started to spread religious extremism three years ago and, since September had headed a group of 13 who watched violent videos and carried out physical training. The report, which cited police investigations, said that starting in January the group bought vehicles, made explosive devices and carried out trial explosions to prepare for attacks on police vehicles.
Police on Friday fatally shot eight people who attacked officers with machetes and drove cars with gas cylinders they detonated as bombs, authorities said. Three other suspects were killed as they exploded bombs, which injured two civilians and two police officers in Aksu prefecture.
The official Xinhua News Agency also cited information from the regional public security department that 190 terrorist attacks were recorded in Xinjiang in 2012, which it said was a significant increase from the year before.