Eight people including three knife-wielding assailants were killed in China’s western Xinjiang province on Wednesday. The assailants attacked the crowd with a knife and killed five persons. Later, they were gunned down by the police.
According to an announcement by the government of the nearby city of Hotan, ten other people were also injured in the attack on Tuesday in Pishan country.
The announcement said, “At present, social order is normal at the site, society is stable, and investigation work is under way.”
Xinjiang is the home to China’s Uighur ethnic minority. Uighurs are mainly Muslim, Turkic-speaking people different from the Chinese-speaking Han national majority. Many of them complain of cultural and religious oppression and discrimination and they are often hit by deadly unrest.
China stated it is fighting against separatists and the militant East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), while Uighur activists said Beijing is cracking down on peaceful religious and cultural expression in the name of fighting terrorism.
The statement did not suggest that the recent assassinations were linked to ETIM which has carried out attacks inside and outside China.
An overseas spokesman for Uighurs, Dilxat Raxit said local security forces have put Pishan under lockdown. The armed officers guarding the roads and residents and at least two Uighurs have been detained for sharing videos of the scene.
He said, “Armed forces in the county are targeting Uighurs for investigation and demanding that Chinese people avoid leaving their homes.”
He added, “I am worried the case will provide China with a new political excuse for repression and will cause more people to face discriminatory inspections or detentions.”
Hundreds of people were killed in recent years in Xinjiang on the borders of central Asia and Pakistan in violence between members of the ethnic Uighur minority and majority Han Chinese.
Last month, police killed three “rioters” following a manhunt for suspected members of a “violent terror group” linked to a 2015 attack in Pishan country.
In November 2015, police killed 28 members of a terrorist group following an attack on a colliery in Aksu that left 16 people dead.
In March 2014, 13 people were stabbed to death at a train station in Kunming. China’s state media termed it “China’s 9/11”.