Sketchy reports from China's western region of Xinjiang say 21 people were killed when police searched the homes of the region's Uyghur ethnic minority.
Chinese authorities say 21 people were killed as Chinese police raided a suspected terrorist hideout in China's far-western region of Xinjiang.
A regional government-run website Tianshan Net said gun fights broke out on Tuesday afternoon while police were searching for weapons in Bachu district.
Those killed included six Uyghur suspects, the website said. It described the others killed as police officers and government "social workers."
Mainly Muslim Uyghurs make up about 40 percent of the 21 million people in the vast, ethnically divided region of Xinjiang.
Exiles and human rights groups have long accused China's government of favoring Chinese Han migrants and using tensions to stage crackdowns on Uyghurs.
The news release said Tuesday's violence began when three local officials reported a group of suspicious men armed with knives hiding inside a home in the township of Selibuya, near China's westernmost city of Kashgar.
It said the officials were then taken captive by the suspects and later killed when security units arrived on the scene. Police also detained eight other suspects. Investigations had shown that they were part of a group planning "terrorist" activities, the release said.
Rioting in July 2009 between Uyghurs and Han left nearly 200 people dead in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi. Sporadic incidents since then were quickly suppressed by local paramilitary units.
ipj/ccp (dpa, AFP)