News / Asia

China's Xinjiang Riot Kills 27

Shanshan County, Xinjiang Province, China
Shanshan County, Xinjiang Province, China
Chinese state media say 27 people were killed during rioting in the ethnically-mixed western region of Xinjiang, the worst violence in the area in four years.

The official Xinhua news agency said the riot began early Wednesday when "knife-wielding mobs" attacked police stations, a local government building, and a construction site in the Lukqun township of Shanshan County.

The report said the rioters stabbed people and set fire to police cars, killing nine security personnel and eight civilians before police opened fire and killed 10 assailants. It said police also captured three rioters and are searching for an unknown number of others.

It gave no information on what led to the riots and did not comment on the ethnicity of those involved.

Xinjiang has experienced years of occasional fighting between members of China's mostly Muslim Uighur minority and the Han Chinese majority. Many Uighurs blame Xinjiang's violence on religious and cultural discrimination resulting from a massive influx of Han.

Dolkun Isa, secretary of the World Uighur Congress, told VOA it is difficult to confirm what exactly happened in Wednesday's unrest because of a heavy police presence and what he called an atmosphere of "martial law" prevailing in the area.

But Isa said it was possible that a Uighur mob raided the police station, saying such attacks happen out of a desire for revenge.

"Of course, people get the feelings of revenge, because the police always are restricting the daily lives of people," he said. "They don't allow space for normal life for them. Because Chinese police and the Chinese government are always interrupting their daily lives. They have no space."

A Shanshan County resident told VOA's sister network Radio Free Asia that after the riot, police restricted access to Lukqun, which he described as a small and predominantly Uighur town with only one large road and surrounded by farm land.

The man, who asked not to be identified, said residents usually engage in protests if they believe their grievances have not been properly addressed by Chinese authorities.

"The [Uighur] people in the rural area of this region are normally peaceful and honest, and they don't harbor hatred. If they have hatred, it is because some educated fellows have encouraged them in that way," he said.

China has said it grants Uighurs wide-ranging freedoms, but insisted that it faces a growing threat from terrorists or extremists in the Uighur community who want to form a separate state called East Turkestan.

Exiled Uighur activists such as Isa have disputed those claims, saying China is exaggerating the extremist threat to justify its security clampdown and monitoring of Islamic institutions in Xinjiang.

Wednesday's unrest was the deadliest in Xinjiang since 2009, when more than 200 people were killed in riots that saw the Turkic-speaking Uighurs fight against state security forces and Han Chinese residents.

In April this year, a confrontation between locals and police in the heavily Uighur area of Kashgar killed 21 people.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Video Video Claims to Show Shi'ite Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More