BEIJING – Chinese state media said Sunday that 18 people who took part in violence that killed dozens near the country’s border with Pakistan have handed themselves in to police.
Authorities said a terrorist gang attacked a police station and government buildings in Shache county near Kashgar on July 28, killing 37 people before police shot dead 59 of the attackers.
Xinjiang has experienced rising unrest in recent months blamed on militants from the region’s native Muslim Turkic Uighur ethnic group who are seeking to overthrow Chinese rule. Of the 37 civilians who were killed, 35 were Han Chinese and two were Uighur, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. No information on the attackers has been released.
The Xinjiang Daily, the region’s official newspaper, reported Sunday that 18 people had since surrendered. It said most of them were “ordinary people,” some of whom had been instigated or coerced into taking part in the violence without knowing the reasons for it.
The Shache incident appeared to be the most serious single instance of bloodshed in Xinjiang since riots broke out in 2009 that left nearly 200 dead.
However, an overseas Uighur activist group has disputed the official version, saying that police killed Uighurs who had been protesting the authorities’ heavy-handed security crackdown during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Last week, the regional government announced it had arrested 215 people in relation to the attack.
People who answered the phones at the Shache county government and police said they had no information.