BEIJING (REUTERS) - China has cracked down on 181 "terror gangs" in its restive far western region of Xinjiang, which has suffered a string of violent attacks, state media reported on Monday.
Resource-rich Xinjiang, strategically located on the borders of central Asia, plays a crucial rule in helping China meet its growing energy needs.
The campaign kicked off after 39 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a market in the regional capital of Urumqi last May, official news agency Xinhua said, citing data from the regional committee of the ruling Communist Party.
Police in Xinjiang busted the gangs, Xinhua reported, adding that 112 suspects surrendered to the police.
Chinese authorities have long sought to root out those they term extremists who want to establish an independent state in Xinjiang called East Turkestan.
Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say repressive government policies in Xinjiang, including controls on Islam and on Uighur culture, have provoked unrest, a claim that Beijing denies.
Hundreds have been killed in the unrest in Xinjiang, the government has said.
Analysts say most of the economic benefits of developing the region have gone to the Han Chinese, the country's biggest ethnic group, stoking resentment among Uighurs.