08/26/2013, 00.00
CHINA
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Xinjiang, more violence: 15 Uyghurs killed by police for "terrorism"

A group of natives of the northern province had gathered in a desert area near Yilkiqi: according to the authorities they were engaged in training activities, other sources say a prayer meeting. Area increasingly troublesome, risk of further clashes.

Urumqi (AsiaNews) - Police in the northern province of Xinjiang opened fire on a group of Uyghurs gathered in an isolated area of ​​the region killing "at least 15", in what authorities describe as "an anti-terrorism" operation. The bodies were buried at the scene, even evidence of this has yet to be presented as reported by Radio Free Asia, citing local sources.

According to these sources, on August 20, a group of anti-terrorism squad police from prefecture of Kashgar surrounded "at least 28 Uyghurs" who were in a desert area near the town of Yilkiqi. According to authorities, these were engaged in "illegal religious activities and terrorist exercises". After surrounding them they opened fire: one Han policeman died in the shootout.

Some witnesses, anonymous for security reasons, dispute the official story: "We were meeting in a desert area, but only to pray without having to account to the officials. Religious practice is increasingly controlled, and many of us do not want to have to report to the government even what we are saying to God. "

The raid was confirmed by the head of the municipal police, Osman Batur: "We have successfully conducted an anti-terror operation, destroying violent terrorist cells." However, the officer would not confirm the number of victims, "Many came from outside and had no identity documents."

The province is one of the most turbulent in all of China: It is home to the ethnic Uyghur, Turkic speaking peoples of the Islamic religion, who have always sought to gain independence from Beijing. The central government has sent hundreds of thousands of Han Chinese to the region to try to make them the dominant ethnic group. It also imposes serious restrictions on freedom of religion, Muslim practices, the teaching of the language and the local culture.

Since 2009 a special system of Chinese police and army control is in place, imposed by Beijing after the riots in which nearly 200 people lost their lives. As a result of the violence hundreds of custodial sentences and dozens of death sentences were meted out. The Chinese authorities believe that the perpetrators of violence are Muslim extremists, but exiles claim that Beijing is "exaggerating" the threat of Islamic terrorism to justify the repression against the Uyghur population. Even the latest violence (in chronological order) was reported in different ways by the authorities and diaspora.

 

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