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Gun Battle in China's Xinjiang Kills 21 People

Chinese officials say at least 21 people were killed after a gun battle broke out during a police crackdown on suspected criminals in the restive northwestern province of Xinjiang.

State-run media say the clashes began Tuesday, when social workers came across what they called "suspicious individuals" and weapons in a house in western Kashgar prefecture.

When police later arrived to investigate, a gun fight broke out, resulting in the deaths of 15 social workers and police. The report also said six "gang members" were shot dead in the clashes, while another eight were captured.

It called the clashes a "violent terror incident" and said the group was plotting to use the weapons to "launch terror activities" - an accusation commonly lodged against those from the ethnic minority Uighur community involved in violence.

Xinjiang is an ethnically divided region that sees occasional outbreaks of violence, mainly between the predominantly Muslim Uighur community, government security forces, and the Han Chinese majority.

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