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June 27, 2013

China Raises Death Toll in Xinjiang Unrest to 35

by VOA News

China has raised the death toll from the worst outbreak of violence in years in its western Xinjiang region, saying Wednesday's incident killed 35 people and resulted from what it called a "terrorist" attack.

In a report published Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency said an unidentified group of rioters carried out the early morning attack in Shanshan County's Lukqun township. It said the rioters assaulted police stations, a local government building and a construction site, killing 24 people, including two police officers.

Xinhua said police shot and killed 11 of the rioters. It said authorities restored order in the town.

The state news agency said the dead included 16 Uighurs, members of a mostly Muslim ethnic group that's indigenous to Xinjiang.

Residents of the town told Western news agencies that authorities tightened security after the incident. It was the deadliest to hit Xinjiang since 2009, when Uighurs and members of China's Han majority engaged in ethnic riots that killed about 200 people in the regional capital, Urumqi. Sporadic violence has continued since then.

Beijing has blamed much of Xinjiang's recent unrest on what it calls Uighur terrorists affiliated with the banned East Turkestan Islamic Movement [ETIM] and trained in neighboring Pakistan.

In an interview with VOA, Washington-based rights activist Alim Seytoff of the Uyghur American Association denied that any Muslim fundamentalists or terrorists operate in Xinjiang.