Updated: 01/27/2014 07:21 | By Agence France-Presse

China police blame terrorists for Xinjiang violence: Xinhua

Chinese police said "terrorist attacks" were responsible for the latest wave of violence to hit the restive Xinjiang region in which 12 people were killed, state media reported Monday.


China police blame terrorists for Xinjiang violence: Xinhua

Chinese police check IDs of visitors arriving at the Tiananmen Gate in Beijing on January 26, 2014 - by Goh Chai Hin

Six people died in explosions -- including blasts in a hairdressing salon and market -- while another six were shot dead by police in Xinhe in Aksu prefecture in China's far west on Friday.

A police investigation has shown the explosions were "organized, premeditated terrorist attacks," the official Xinhua news agency said, as authorities revealed new details of the incident.

"The group rode on three motorcycles to set up explosions at a hair salon and a vegetable market at about 6:40 pm on Friday. 

"Shortly after the explosions, the police responded and opened fire to fight back attacks by the group when they were making arrests," the agency reported, adding that six suspects were gunned down and six others died in explosions they set off by themselves.

One policeman was slightly injured but "no bystander casualties" were reported during the arrests, it said.

Located in China's extreme west, along the border with Kyrgyzstan, Xinhe is populated predominantly by members of the country's Uighur minority.

Police have named one suspect who "organized illegal religious activities and spread religious extremism since May last year" and "headed a group of 17 terrorist suspects to make explosives in a rented house," Xinhua said.

The vast Xinjiang region has for years been hit by sporadic unrest by predominantly Muslim Uighurs, which rights groups say is driven by cultural oppression, intrusive security measures and immigration by Han Chinese.

In recent months, it has seen more regular violent incidents, usually involving men armed with knives and explosives, according to official media.

Beijing attributes the unrest to religious extremists and separatism.

The most serious recent violent incident took place in the Turpan area of Xinjiang, leaving at least 35 people dead in June.

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