Second clash hits China Xinjiang in three days: Media

TURPAN, China (AFP) - Fresh violence erupted in China's restive Xinjiang on Friday, state media said, two days after 35 died in what the government called a "terrorist attack" and a week before the anniversary of major 2009 clashes.

The incident in Hotan city followed riots Wednesday that were the deadliest to hit the western desert region, home to 10 million mostly Uighur Muslims, since violence on July 5, 2009, left hundreds dead.

"At local time this afternoon, a violent attack occurred in Hotan city," the CCTV state broadcaster said on an official microblog account. "Currently the incident has been resolved and the number of casualties is being verified."

It did not provide further details. Several Hotan government and police phone numbers appeared not to be working and the Xinjiang information chief could not be immediately reached. It was unclear if this week's incidents, which occurred more than 1,000 kilometres apart, were connected.

Some in the Uighur community have blamed unrest on economic inequality and religious repression - claims that China rejects, pointing to regional investment and placing the blame instead on "terrorists".

The Xinhua news agency said that in Wednesday's riots in Turpan city's Lukqun township, "knife-wielding mobs" attacked police stations and set fire to cars before officers opened fire.

The clashes left 35 dead including 11 rioters, while a further 21 police and civilians were injured and four rioters detained, the report said.

"We defined the attack as a violent terrorist attack," foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said of Wednesday's violence during a regular press briefing in Beijing.

The US-based Radio Free Asia reported a higher death toll of 46, also including 11 rioters, citing officials and residents.

A spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, a group run by Uighurs in exile, said 67 people had been detained over the Lukqun incident. In a statement the group called the event "evidence of China's failed policies towards Uighurs".

Official figures show that 46 per cent of Xinjiang's population is Uighur, while another 39 per cent are Han. Millions of Han have relocated to the region in recent decades to find work, in a settlement drive that has caused friction in the community.

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