BEIJING (AFP) - A Chinese court on Monday condemned 12 people to death and gave another 15 suspended death sentences in connection with a July attack in violence-racked Xinjiang, the regional government's Tianshan portal said.
Thirty-seven civilians and 59 "terrorists" were killed and another 13 civilians wounded in the July 28 attack on a police station and government offices in Shache county, also known as Yarkand, according to state media.
The incident was the bloodiest in Xinjiang since rioting involving members of China's Han majority and the country's mostly Muslim Uighur minority - the largest group in the region - left around 200 people dead in the capital Urumqi in 2009.
"In adjudicating the case, the court fully implemented the criminal policy of combining justice with mercy," Tianshan said.
Nine people were sentenced to life in prison and 20 were given sentences ranging from four to 20 years over the incident, according to Tianshan.
Overseas-based Uighur exile groups have cast doubt over the government's version of events in July, saying that Beijing's security forces used submachine guns and sniper rifles, leading to "huge casualties".
Access to information in Xinjiang is strictly controlled by the authorities and reports can often not be independently verified.
Beijing has blamed a series of recent violent attacks on separatists from Xinjiang. Rights groups accuse China's government of cultural and religious repression which they say fuels unrest in the region bordering Central Asia.