RFA: Uyghurs Blamed as 18 Die in Xinjiang Attack

At least 18 people were killed in Kashgar, Xinjiang when police responded to an attack by armed assailants. From Reuters:

The attack occurred on Monday, the station said, in a district of the southern city of where tensions between Muslim Uighurs who call the region home and the national majority Han Chinese have led to bloodshed in recent years.

Suspects killed several police officers with knives and bombs after speeding through a traffic checkpoint in a car in Kashgar’s Tahtakoruk district, the US-based Radio Free Asia said, citing Turghun Memet, an officer at a nearby police station.

Armed police responded to the attack and killed 15 suspects “designated as terrorists”, Radio Free Asia cited Memet as saying. [Source]

The RFA report has more details about the attack:

The attack began when a car sped through a traffic checkpoint without stopping, Turghun Memet, an officer with the nearby Heyhag district police station told RFA’s Uyghur Service.

“When one of the policemen at the checkpoint ran out of the booth, the car backed up, hitting him and breaking his leg,” Memet said.

“Two other suspects then rushed out of the car, using knives to attack and kill two police officers who had come to rescue their comrade,” he said.

The remaining traffic police, who do not carry guns, called for backup from Memet’s department and the People’s Armed Police (PAP).

“By the time armed police reached the scene, three more suspects had arrived by sidecar motorcycle and attacked the checkpoint and police cars with explosives, killing one regular police officer, another traffic policeman and one auxiliary officer,” Memet said. [Source]

The attack comes amid a yearlong, national antiterror crackdown and accompanying restrictions on religious customs and observances in predominately Muslim Xinjiang. The regional Party leader recently called for the “sinicization” of religion in order to combat “hostile forces” from abroad. Officials have also discouraged the observance of the holy month of , which started last week, especially among Communist Party officials, civil servants, students, and teachers. In a move than many took as especially offensive to observant Muslims, who are discouraged by religious doctrine from imbibing alcohol, a local official in Xinjiang planned a beer festival ahead of Ramadan, while last month leaders of a Xinjiang village ordered shops to sell alcohol or face closure.

The Kashgar attack is the latest in a series of violent incidents in Xinjiang in recent years. Last week, a Uyghur man was reportedly killed by police at the Xi’an train station after attacking passengers with a brick.