Mayor in China's Xinjiang probed for graft: Government

BEIJING (AFP) - The Uighur mayor of a violence-racked city in China's far-western Xinjiang region is being investigated for corruption, a government notice said, as central authorities broaden their highly publicised anti-graft probe.

Adil Nurmemet, the mayor of Hotan, is being probed for suspected "serious disciplinary violations", according to a notice posted on Thursday on the website of the regional discipline inspection commission, the Communist Party's internal watchdog.

Hotan, known as Hetian in Mandarin, is an oasis town in Xinjiang's southwest, on the edge of the Taklamakan Desert.

Nearly 90 per cent of its 320,000 population are members of the mostly-Muslim Uighur minority, the state-run China Daily newspaper said on Friday, as is Nurmemet according to previous reports.

Beijing has blamed a series of recent attacks on violent separatists from the vast, resource-rich region, where information is often difficult to verify independently.

The incidents have grown in scale and sophistication over the last year and have spread outside the restive area.

In August, police in Hotan shot dead nine suspected "terrorists" and captured one after discovering the group in a cornfield, according to state media.

Rights groups accuse China's government of cultural and religious repression they say fuels unrest in Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia.

Under President Xi Jinping, China's ruling Communist Party has repeatedly vowed to combat rampant graft in the face of public anger over the issue.

No details were given regarding Nurmemet's case.

But according to the China Daily, Communist Party authorities have also set up a "political discipline inspection office" in Xinjiang.

The office probes alleged misconduct tied to religious affairs, "including taking bribes in connection with organising pilgrimages to Mecca for local Muslims", the newspaper said, adding that 13 such cases have been handled this year.