Xinjiang 'rioters' ram vehicle into building

Attackers drove a vehicle into a government building in China's far-western region of Xinjiang's capital city Urumqi, set off an explosive device and used knives to kill two people.
Attackers drove a vehicle into a government building in China's far-western region of Xinjiang's capital city Urumqi, set off an explosive device and used knives to kill two people. PHOTO: ST FILE

Police shot dead the three attackers after they knifed two people to death: State media

BEIJING • Attackers drove a vehicle into a government building in China's unruly far-western region of Xinjiang, setting off an explosive device and using knives to kill two people before all three of the assailants were shot dead, state media said yesterday.

The three "rioters" drove up to a local party office in Moyu County on Wednesday and "detonated (an) explosive device" before attacking with knives, killing two and injuring three others, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing a statement from the local authorities.

The three assailants were then "shot dead by police", Xinhua added, without specifying if they were killed on the spot or later in the day.

"At present, local social order is stable," the local government said in a statement. The case is now under investigation.

A previous account had said that four attackers were shot dead after killing one civilian.

The brief report described the assault as a "terrorist attack". China tends to reserve the "terrorist" label for attacks involving the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority.

Xinjiang is the homeland of the Uighurs - many of whom complain of discrimination and controls on their culture and religion - and is often hit by deadly unrest.

Beijing regularly accuses what it says are exiled Uighur separatist groups, such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, of being behind attacks in the resource-rich region.

But overseas experts doubt the strength of the groups and their links to global terrorism, with some saying China exaggerates the threat to justify tough security measures.

Mr Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the exiled group the World Uighur Congress, said he doubted the official account. "I strongly doubt the casualty toll and reason for the incident from official reports, which lack transparency," he said in an e-mailed statement.

Hundreds of people have been killed in recent years in Xinjiang, on the borders of central Asia, in clashes between the Uighurs and ethnic-majority Han Chinese.

In November last year, police killed 28 members of a "terrorist group" over the course of a 56-day manhunt following an attack on a colliery in Aksu two months earlier that left 16 people dead.

In March 2014, 31 people were knifed to death at a train station in Kunming, in south-western China. Xinjiang separatists were blamed for the attack and state media dubbed it "China's 9/11".

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2016, with the headline 'Xinjiang 'rioters' ram vehicle into building'. Print Edition | Subscribe