Fifteen more people have died in a terrorist attack in China’s rebellious Xinjiang region, state media reported Saturday, despite Beijing’s recent efforts to beef up security in this far-west part of the country.
According to China’s Xinhua news service, 11 of the dead were “mobsters” who tossed explosive devices and attacked civilians with knives on a food market street in Shache County, south of Kashgar, at about 1:30 p.m. on Friday. Police on patrol nearby killed the 11 attackers, said Xinhua, and 14 people were injured.
Shache, part of Kashgar Prefecture, is the same county where 37 civilians were reportedly killed in an axe-and-knife attack on July 28. According to Xinhua, a local court sentenced 12 of the attackers to death in October. Another 15 were sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve in October.
As with the reported attack in July, none of what Xinhua reported Saturday could be independently confirmed, including the assertion that “mobsters” were responsible. Foreign media are restricted from traveling freely in much of Xinjiang, an enormous region in western China that has been a home to years of ethnic riots and unrest.
Muslim Uighurs, who once were the majority in Xinjiang, have long resented Beijing’s rule and policies of assimilation. Over the last two years, Uighur militants have unleashed repeated attacks against police and civilians, not just in Xinjiang, but in other regions of China.
As is standard in state media, Xinhua’s report Saturday did not describe the alleged terrorists, not did it detail the ethnicity of those attacked. Xinhua said “a number of explosive devices, knives and axes were found at the scene,” and that those injured were receiving treatment at local hospitals.
The attacks follow numerous efforts by President Xi Jinping to shore up security in Xinjiang, a region of vast natural resources that is crucial to Xi’s plan to expand economic ties with Kazakhstan and other nations that border the region.