Fifteen killed in 'terrorist attack' in China's Xinjiang: State media

BEIJING (AFP) - Fifteen people have been killed and 14 others wounded in a "terrorist attack" in China's mostly Muslim Xinjiang region, the official Chinese news agency said on Saturday.

A group of "terrorists" launched an attack on civilians on Friday in Shache county, leaving four people dead and 14 wounded. Eleven "terrorists" were also shot dead during the violence, according to CCTV, China's state broadcaster.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua confirmed the death toll, citing a statement from the local authorities.

At around 1.30pm local time on Friday, men armed with knives threw explosive devices and attacked crowds on the commercial street, Xinhua reported.

Eleven of the attackers were killed by the police who were patrolling in the area. Explosives, knives and axes were seized at the scene.

The wounded were evacuated and taken to hospital, the news agency said.

The district of Shache - or Yarkand in the Uighur language - was the scene of violent clashes in July, shortly before the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Xinjiang is frequently hit by unrest sparked by fierce tensions between China's ethnic Han majority and the Turkic-speaking Muslim Uighurs, with authorities regularly blaming Uighur militants for the violence.

Some Uighurs in the north-west Chinese region are hostile to Beijing's leadership.

They say they are victims of discrimination and left out of the benefits of development in Xinjiang, which has seen an influx of Han Chinese moving in from elsewhere in the country.

Experts and human rights activists say that repressive policies regarding religion and culture adopted by Beijing fuel the tensions in the region.

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