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China: 'Serious' Terrorist Attack Kills 50 In Xinjiang

State media in China say that a violent clash in the country's restive Xinjiang region over the weekend was much more deadly than first reported: At least 50 people died Sunday, including 40 "rioters" with about as many wounded during an "organized and serious" terrorist attack.

Earlier this week, state media had reported two died in the incident that took place at two police stations, as well as a shop and a produce market, in Luntai county. Since the mid-2000s, separatists in China's Xinjiang autonomous region have stepped up a violent campaign against Beijing.

USA Today, citing the regional government's news portal, Tianshan, says of Sunday's attack:

"Six civilians, two police officers and two auxiliary policemen were killed, and two rioters were captured alive, after what Xinjiang police called an "organized and serious" terrorist attack.

"Over 300 people have died in the past year in Xinjiang-related violence, according to Chinese state media. Officials blame overseas terror groups for fanning the frustrations and separatist ambitions of the Uighur minority. A mostly Muslim people, many Uighurs chafe at cultural and religious restrictions set by the ruling Communist Party, and resent the economic dominance of China's majority Han ethnic group."

The BBC says:

"Tianshan said that blasts occurred around 17:00 on Sunday at two police stations, an outdoor market and a shop entrance.

"The 'rioters' either blew themselves up or were shot dead by police, it said. Fifty-four civilians were injured and two 'rioters' were captured, it said."

Last year, Chinese authorities arrested eight Uighur men in an attack that killed two tourists and wounded 40 others near the entrance to the Forbidden City in Tiananmen Square. And earlier this year, in a mass public trial, authorities convicted and sentenced dozens of Uighurs on charges of terrorism.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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