Chinese security forces in the far western region of Xinjiang killed 28 “terrorists” from a group that carried out a deadly attack at a coal mine in September under the direction of “foreign extremists”, the regional government said on Friday.
The news carried by the official Xinjiang Daily was the first official mention of the Sept. 18 attack at the Sogan colliery in Aksu, in which it said 16 people, including five police officers, were killed and another 18 people injured, Reuters reported.
Radio Free Asia, which first reported the incident about two months ago, said at least 50 people had died.
Attackers fled into the mountains and authorities launched a manhunt with more than 10,000 people participating every day, forming an “inescapable dragnet”, the Xinjiang Daily said.
“After 56 days of continuous fighting, Xinjiang destroyed a violent terrorist gang directly under the command of a foreign extremist group. Aside from one person who surrendered, 28 thugs were completely annihilated,” the newspaper said.
China’s government says it faces a serious threat from Islamist militants and separatists in energy-rich Xinjiang, on the border of central Asia, where hundreds have died in violence in recent years.
Rights groups say China has never presented convincing evidence of the existence of a cohesive militant group fighting the government.
Much of the unrest, they argue, is due to frustration at controls over the culture and religion of the Uyghur people who live in Xinjiang, a charge Beijing denies.
The Xinjiang Daily said two people who appeared to have Uighur names were leaders of the unnamed foreign group.
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