China confirms deadly Xinjiang attack and manhunt

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Chinese police killed 28 people and captured one suspect believed responsible for a deadly knife attack on a coal mine in the restive Xinjiang region in September, state media said Friday.

A gang of knife-wielding separatists killed 16 people and injured 18 in an Akesu prefecture coal mine on September 18, the Xinhua news agency reported for the first time on Friday.

Among the dead in the colliery attack were 11 civilians, three policemen and two paramilitary police, Xinhua said.

US-based broadcaster Radio Free Asia, one of the first to report on the attack, has put the number of dead at about 50.

The Xinjiang autonomous region has a history of discord between Beijing authorities and the nationally predominant Han people on one side, and the regionally indigenous, majority-Muslim ethnic Uighur population, which complains of discrimination.

Friday’s announcement came through a statement by the publicity department of Xinjiang, Xinhua said.

The suspects died “during back and forth gun fights with police. One surrendered,” the statement said.

The daily manhunt reportedly involved more than 10,000 citizens and police searching a 1,300-square-kilometre area.

“In 2008, members of the group began watching videos containing messages of religious extremism, gradually reinforcing their extreme beliefs,” the statement said.

The people killed in a November 13 raid on the group included women and children, a local source told the Uighur service of Radio Free Asia.

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