At the South China Morning Post, Teddy Ng reports on a fatal attack in Pishan county, Xinjiang on Tuesday, February 14. Eight were reportedly killed—including three, the alleged attackers, by police—and five others injured:
A news portal of the Hotan government reported on early Wednesday morning that three knife-wielding men attacked and stabbed several people in Pishan county. Police shot dead the three attackers.
Ten people were injured in the attack. Among them, five were declared dead after being sent to hospital.
Order has been restored and an investigation is ongoing, the report said. The identity of the attackers were not disclosed. [Source]
This attack is the latest in a series of fatal incidents in Xinjiang, the frontline of a nationwide crackdown on terrorism launched by authorities in May 2014 in response to escalating violence in the region and elsewhere in China. More government remarks about the attack, and the official view of the situation in Xinjiang, from Reuters’ John Ruwitch:
Three knife-wielding attackers have killed five people and injured five others in China’s far western region of Xinjiang before police killed the “thugs”, a regional government said.
[…] “At present, social order is normal at the site, society is stable, and investigation work is under way,” it said, without giving further details about the attackers or their motive.
[…] The government has blamed much of the unrest on separatist Islamist militants, although rights groups and exiles say anger at Chinese controls on the religion and culture of Muslim Uighurs is more to blame for the violence. China denies any repression in Xinjiang. [Source]
Pishan county, situated in the far southwest of Xinjiang, has seen several attacks in recent years. The last official account of an attack in Pishan came last month—two years after the incident reportedly occurred—and only after authorities had killed the alleged assailants. The attack reportedly took place in 2015, and the Global Times noted last month that authorities hadn’t previously revealed it. The scant details provided to Chinese media by the Hotan government about this most recent case are characteristic of coverage of violence in Xinjiang, where authorities have long maintained tight control over the related media narrative. The government’s forbidding of unsanctioned Chinese media reports on Xinjiang violence often means that they go unreported in China, and are instead broken by foreign government-funded media organizations or advocacy groups.
Amid the anti-terror campaign, many in Xinjiang have been sentenced for downloading or spreading “violent internet content.” The Global Times today reports that regional authorities in Xinjiang have “busted” seven cases of “illegal, extremist content” since December:
The Xinjiang cyberspace administration office said suspects spread information online relating to terrorism, violence, religious extremism and separatism, as well as rumors, fake news, insults and defamatory statements, according to the report.
The office said that among the seven cases, two were related to pro-terrorist content, three to publicizing religious extremism, one to spreading fake reports of terrorism and the last one to a hostile attack on governmental measures of stabilization.
Three of the cases were discovered in December 2016, and the other four occurred in January 2017. Suspects involved are aged from 21 to 34.
The authorities have encouraged the public to report illegal online content to the police, listing several ways to contact with the police on the administration’s website. It also said people who report illegal behavior online will be awarded.
Anyone who uses cellphones, the Internet, mobile storage devices or other media to disseminate terrorism or extremist thoughts will also be held accountable for terror crimes, according the local anti-terrorism regulation of Xinjiang. [Source]