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'Knife-wielding mobs' rioting in China's western Xinjiang region leave 27 dead

State media said the riots in western China targeted police stations, while representatives of the Uighur Muslim minority blamed an uptick in detentions.

Uighurs MaoEnlarge
Members of the Chinese Muslim minority, called "Uighurs," from Xinjiang Province pose for photos in front of a portrait of Mao Zedong before the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 3, 2013. (MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

In the worst ethnic violence in China for four years, at least 27 people have been killed after police reportedly opened fire on "knife-wielding mobs" in the western Xinjiang region.

A widely cited report by the state news agency, Xinhua, said the riot began early Wednesday, with rioters attacking police stations, a local government building, and a construction site in the Lukqun township of Shanshan County.

Communist Party officials in Xinjiang — where Uighurs, a Muslim minority, have repeatedly clashed with Han Chinese settlers — told Xinhua that 17 people were killed, including nine security personnel and eight civilians, before police opened fire and shot dead 10 rioters

Police also captured three rioters and are searching for an unknown number of others.

Photos on state-run television’s QQ microblog website showed burned-out police cars and a bus in front of a damaged police station. A pool of water appeared tinged with blood.

The township is in Turpan Prefecture, about 176 miles southeast of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

In April, 21 people were killed in Xinjiang, which is also approaching the fourth anniversary of riots that left 197 people dead.

Many local Uighurs blame the violence on religious and cultural discrimination after a massive influx of Han.

A spokesman for the World Uighur Congress, Dilxat Raxit,told The New York Timesfrom Sweden that the bloodshed resulted from an uptick in detentions of Uighurs over recent months.

"This clash did not happen by chance. There have been sweeps and crackdowns in the area, leading to many Uighur men disappearing, and the authorities have refused to give information about their whereabouts."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/130626/knife-uighur-Xinjiang-china-han-chinese