29 July 2014
Last updated at 16:16
Chinese authorities have stepped up the security presence in key Xinjiang towns and cities
Dozens of people have been killed or injured in an attack in China’s Xinjiang region, state media say.
Xinhua news agency said a knife-wielding gang had attacked a police station and government offices in Shache county early on Monday.
Local Uighurs as well as Han Chinese were among the casualties. Police shot dead many attackers, Xinhua said.
Confirming details of incidents in Xinjiang is difficult, because the flow of information is tightly controlled.
Xinhua said that more than 30 police cars had been damaged or destroyed in the “terror attack”, six of them burnt out.
Quoting local police, it said “dozens of Uighur and Han civilians were killed or injured”.
According to Xinhua, the gang began their attack in the township of Elixku before moving to another nearby settlement, attacking civilians and vehicles on the way.
“Police officers at the scene shot dead dozens of members of the mob,” the report added.
Earlier a Chinese official told the BBC that 13 people had been killed in the outbreak of violence, the latest to hit the troubled region.
The regional official said the incident took place in Yarkant, a town near the city of Kashgar and the border with Tajikistan.
The area is seen as the heartland of the region’s Muslim Uighur ethnic minority.
It is not clear why official media took so long to report the violence.
In 2009, large-scale ethnic rioting between Han Chinese and Uighur communities in Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, left some 200 people – mostly Han Chinese – dead.
In recent months there has been an upsurge in Xinjiang-linked violence that authorities have attributed to Uighur separatists.
In May at least 31 people were killed when two cars crashed through an Urumqi market and explosives were thrown. In March, a mass stabbing at Kunming railway station killed 29 people.
In response Chinese authorities have launched a year-long security campaign which includes increased police and troop presence in key cities and towns in Xinjiang.
Uighur rights groups say there is considerable resentment against Chinese rule in Xinjiang, in particular restrictions on religious and cultural freedoms.
China says it is investing heavily in the region to improve people’s lives.