China has sentenced 12 people to death for involvement in an attack that left 96 people dead in July, as part of a "strike hard" campaign against violence in the mostly Muslim Xinjiang province.

State broadcaster, China Central Television said on Monday that 12 people had been condemned to death and 15 others handed suspended death sentences, for their role in attacks on a police station and government offices that killed 37 civilians.

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Fifty-nine of the attackers who had stormed the buildings wielding knives and axes were also killed, state media had reported.

Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the state news agency's version of events.

Overseas-based Uighur exile groups have cast doubt on the government's version of events in July, saying that Beijing's security forces used submachine guns and sniper rifles, leading to "huge casualties".

The sentences are the latest in a series of harsh punishments by Chinese authorities, who are in the midst of a "strike hard" campaign against violence in Xinjiang.

The latest sentences bring the number of death sentences passed for Xinjiang-related violence to almost 40 since June, with 21 executions publicly announced.

Rights groups accuse China's government of cultural and religious repression which they say fuels unrest in the region bordering Central Asia.

Xinjiang, a resource-rich region in China's far west which abuts Central Asia, is home to about 10 million Uighur Muslims, who mostly follow Sunni Islam.

Source: Agencies