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China Blames Terrorists for Deadly Clash in Xinjiang

China is blaming an Islamic "terror gang" for an incident during which police shot and killed 14 people in far western Xinjiang province.

Two policemen were also killed in the Sunday clash, which officials say broke out as police tried to arrest suspects near the town of Kashgar.

The official Xinhua news agency called the incident an "organized, pre-meditated, violent terror attack," noting that six people were arrested.

It said police believe the suspects were part of a 20-member terrorist group that had tested explosives and were planning attacks.

Xinjiang has been the scene of numerous incidents of deadly unrest, which Beijing often blames on foreign-backed Muslim Uighur separatists.

Exiled Uighur groups dispute the claim, saying China is exaggerating the threat in order to justify its repression of Muslim religious life.

It is often difficult for foreign journalists to verify the claims made by either side, as Beijing severely restricts all but state-backed reporting in the region.

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