Sixteen policemen killed in suspected terrorist attack in Xinjiang, China

Monday, August 4, 2008

Sixteen policemen were killed by unidentified assailants in Kashgar, in the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang region of China. Another sixteen officers were wounded in the attack, in which two attackers drove a lorry into the station. The government of the People's Republic of China has repeatedly warned of unrest leading up to the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Xinhua News Agency reports that the attackers drove a dump truck into the police officers during the officers' morning exercise at about 8:00 am local time (0:00 GMT), then threw grenades into the police barracks and attacked with knives. The BBC reports that fourteen of the police deaths occurred at the scene, with two more dying en route to hospital. They also report one of the alleged attackers received a leg injury. The attackers were arrested, according to police.

After they were arrested by the police, the assailants were described as being 28 and 33, and of the Uyghur minority, a Turkish speaking people who reside primarily in the Xinjiang region. The police found an additional 10 explosives in the truck as well as what was described as a "home-made gun."

The autonomous Xinjiang region of China is a large, sparsely-populated territory in the north-west of the country. The population includes many groups, but the largest is the Turkic peoples including the largely Muslim Uyghurs. Kashgar is an oasis city at an important junction of trade routes, near China's western borders, and was a part of the historic "Silk Road."