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Chinese police kill attackers after Xinjiang explosion

A group of four attackers has been shot dead by authorities after driving a car into a government building and setting off an explosive device. One person was killed in the attack.

In a statement on Wednesday, the Xinjiang government said four "thugs" drove a vehicle into a yard at the county Communist Party offices and detonated an "explosive device" just before 5 p.m. (0900 UTC). The incident took place in Karakax county, deep in southern Xinjiang's Uighur heartland.

Three people were injured the attack and one other died. "At present, local social order is stable," the government said.

In a separate English language report, the official Xinhua news agency described the incident as a "terrorist attack."

Public outcry over Beijing controls

With no major reported attacks or other violent incidents, Xinjiang had remained quite calm for the large part of 2016. In the past, however, hundreds were killed, due to the violence between the Muslim Uighur people who call the region home and ethnic majority Han Chinese.

The government has blamed the unrest on Islamist militants, though rights groups and exiles argue that anger at Chinese controls on the religion and culture of Uighurs is culpable for the unrest. 

The Uighur issue is generally viewed as an internal Chinese security problem, but some experts say it should also be looked at in the context of global jihad and Islamic fundamentalism.

The crucial point, analysts say, is that the Uighur case is being increasingly hijacked by the jihadi movements, particularly in Afghanistan, where a number of Uighur militants are reportedly fighting alongside the Taliban and al Qaeda.

In June this year, China also ruled that Xinjiang residents must provide DNA samples when applying for travel documents. The decision came at a sensitive period as the region's Muslim population prepared for the holy month of Ramadan.

ksb/kms (Reuters, AFP)

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