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China "terrorists" riot in latest Xinjiang clash: Report

BEIJING (AFP) - More than 100 rioters, described as "terrorists", attacked people in China's ethnically-divided region of Xinjiang on Friday, where clashes killed 35 two days earlier, state-run media said.

The alleged terrorists rioted in the city of Hotan, "attacking a number of people with weapons after gathering at local religious venues," the state-run Global Times said on Saturday. The report did not say how many had been killed or injured in the attack.

The "terrorists, riding on motorcycles, used knives as weapons and attacked a local police station" the report said, citing witnesses, and adding that the situation is now "under control".

The "riot", followed clashes on Wednesday that were the deadliest to hit the western desert region - home to around 10 million members of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority - since 2009, when riots killed around 200 people. China labelled the clashes a "violent terrorist attack".

China often blames outbreaks of sporadic unrest in the region on "terrorism", claims denied by Uighur rights groups who blame unrest on economic inequality and religious repression.

The recent unrest occurred shortly before the anniversary of the 2009 riots, and shortly before celebrations for the Muslim Ramadan festival - which Uighurs have said are repressed by local authorities.

Hotan is situated in southern Xinjiang - an area with a dominant Uighur population, and is known for its jade-mining industry.

Official figures show that 46 per cent of Xinjiang's population is Uighur, while another 39 per cent are members of China's dominant Han majority.

Millions of Han have relocated to the region in recent decades to find work in the region - which is rich in coal and gas - in a settlement drive that has caused friction in the community.

Beijing denies repressing ethnic minorities, who make up less than 10 percent of the national population and sometimes enjoy preferential policies.

China closely restricts information about unrest in Xinjiang, and blocked access across the region for several months after the violence in 2009.