22 October 2016
Police patrol the volatile city of Kashgar during Ramadan last year. Photo: Asia Times
Police patrol the volatile city of Kashgar during Ramadan last year. Photo: Asia Times

Attack on Xinjiang police checkpoint leaves at least 18 dead

At least 18 people were killed when ethnic Uyghurs attacked police with knives and bombs at a traffic checkpoint in Xinjiang, Reuters reported, citing Radio Free Asia (RFA).

The attack occurred at the beginning of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on Monday in the southern city of Kashgar.

Tensions between Muslim Uyghurs who call the region home and the 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, US-based RFA said, citing Turghun Memet, an officer at a nearby police station.

Armed police responded to the attack and killed 15 suspects “designated as terrorists”, Memet was quoted as saying.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters he could not immediately verify the report.

“But if it is correct, then the Chinese government has the responsibility to take resolute steps to stop these kinds of violent terror acts, to maintain peace and stability in Xinjiang,” Lu said.

Ramadan is a sensitive time.

State media and Xinjiang government websites have published official notices again this year demanding that Communist Party members, civil servants, students and teachers do not observe Ramadan and do not fast.

Exiled Uyghurs and human rights activists say repressive government policies in Xinjiang, including controls on Islam and Uyghur culture, have provoked unrest, a claim that Beijing denies.

Last week, a county in southern Xinjiang held a beer festival in what a group of exiles called an open provocation, as Muslims are not supposed to drink alcohol.

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