A suspect of an attack in China has confessed that he had been influenced to carry out a "holy war" in the western region of Xinjiang, China's state television said. 

CCTV reported on Sunday that Mu'er Zhati was one of three attackers that entered a games room in Hotan city last week, and used axes to slash at people playing mahjong.

Mu'er made the TV confession in Uighur, the language of the native Muslim Uighurs who are seeking more autonomy from Beijing.

Mu'er, shown with a bandage on his head, said he was sorry for his behaviour.

A surveillance video, which captured the attack, showed the mahjong players fighting back with chairs, and the three attackers running outside.

The attackers were later stopped from escaping by other people armed with sticks until security forces arrived. The other two attackers were seriously injured and died, while four civilians were wounded, authorities said.

Mu'er said the head of the gang who had been killed had told him that if he died carrying out jihad, or holy war, he would directly enter heaven.

Police said the gang had been influenced by watching overseas religious "extremist" videos, CCTV reported.

Growing unrest

The incident was one in a series of attacks pointing to growing unrest in the sprawling region of Xinjiang.

Chinese Uighurs: Separatism vs terrorism

Chinese television often airs footage of suspects apologising for crimes such as stealing or fraud, and has also shown video footage of the interrogation of high-profile individuals.

Critics, however, said the airing of confessions before a court gets to hear the case, and sometimes before charges are filed, tramples on China's rule of law.

The Chinese government has blamed "extremist" Uighurs for a spate of attacks on civilians, including a market bombing last month that killed 43 people in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi.

Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists said China's own repressive policies in Xinjiang have triggered the unrest and attacks.

Greg Fay, of the Uyghur Human Rights Project, had also told Al Jazeera that only state media are allowed to report from Xinjiang, making it difficult to independently verify reports from the region.

On Saturday, police in Kashgar in Xinjiang's southwest shot dead 13 assailants who rammed a truck into a police office building and set off explosives, state media said. Three officers were wounded.

Earlier this month, China executed 13 people in Xinjiang for various charges.

Source: Agencies