08/30/2008, 00.00
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Xinjiang: police raid against Muslim rebels, six killed

New violence in the western Chinese province, the theater of clashes between Beijing officers and Muslim separatists. The police say they reacted to an attack by the group of Muslims; an association that defends the rights of the Uyghurs instead speaks of a "deliberate attack".

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Six dead and three arrested: the tally is from an operation carried out by Chinese police in the western province of Xinjiang, a majority Muslim area inhabited by ethnic Uyghurs, which for some time has seen episodes of violence between separatists and the central government.

According to the initial version of events, late yesterday evening in Kasghar a police patrol came across nine suspects. The group is believed to have reacted to the command to halt from the agents by pulling out knives; the officers opened fire, killing six people and wounding three.

Sources from the World Uygur Congress, an association that defends the rights of the Muslim minority, based in Germany, affirms that the police deliberately fired on the group after they decided to surrender.

It is not the first time that the province, once known as eastern Turkestan, has seen episodes of violence between pro-autonomy Islamic groups and the Chinese army, conducting a genuine colonization of the region. Beijing accuses the Uyghurs of promoting terrorist attacks, and decided to conduct yet another security crackdown in view of the Olympics.

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