Sixteen people have been killed in a clash in China’s restive far western region of Xinjiang, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, state media has reported.
Police attempting to detain criminal suspects in Shufu county in the city of Kashgar were attacked by several “thugs” armed with explosive devices and knives, reported the tianshannet news portal on Monday, which is run by the Xinjiang government.
Two police officers were killed and 14 of the “thugs” shot dead on Sunday, it said. Two criminal suspects were detained, it added.
The incident comes six weeks after a fiery attack in Tiananmen Square, when according to Chinese police three Xinjiang Uighurs set their vehicle ablaze after ploughing into crowds of tourists, killing two people and injuring 40.
The three attackers – named by authorities as Usmen Hasan, his wife and his mother – all died.
Xinjiang, a vast area bordering Pakistan and Central Asia in China’s far west, beyond the furthest reaches of the Great Wall, has followed Islam for centuries.
For years it has seen sporadic unrest by Uighurs which rights groups say is driven by cultural oppression and intrusive security measures but China attributes to extremist religion, terrorism and separatism.