China police kill eight in Xinjiang clash

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Police in China's restive Xinjiang region have shot dead eight people during a violent clash on Monday, a state news portal says.

The clash broke out when men armed with knives and explosives attacked a police station in Yarkand county, officials say. One person has also been arrested.

The violence comes two weeks after a riot in the region, which saw 16 people killed, including two police.

Xinjiang, home to the Muslim Uighur minority group, sees sporadic clashes.

The government traditionally blames extremists for the violence. Uighur activists, on the other hand, point to ethnic tensions and tight Chinese control as triggers for violence.

Uighurs and Xinjiang

  • Uighurs are ethnically Turkic Muslims
  • They make up about 45% of the region's population; 40% are Han Chinese
  • China re-established control in 1949 after crushing short-lived state of East Turkestan
  • Since then, large-scale immigration of Han Chinese
  • Uighurs fear erosion of traditional culture

Verifying reports from the region is difficult because the information flow out of Xinjiang is tightly controlled.

News of the latest clash first emerged on the state-run regional Tianshan news portal.

Officials described the people who attacked the police station in Yarkand, near the old silk road city of Kashgar, as "thugs carrying knives and throwing explosives".

It was not immediately clear if there were any police casualties. The incident is currently under investigation, officials say.

More than 100 people have been killed in Xinjiang this year in this and similar incidents, which Beijing blames on separatist "terrorists" from the Uighur group, says the BBC's John Sudworth in Shanghai.

In late October, five people were killed when a car ploughed into a crowd and then burst into flames in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

Beijing called the incident a terrorist attack inspired by Xinjiang-linked extremists. Three people who died inside the car were identified by police as Xinjiang Uighurs.

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