Armed ‘rioters’ unleash attacks in western China, 27 dead; atmosphere of ‘martial law’ in Shanshan

Xinjiang unrest CCTV.jpg

A video grab from CCTV shows a vehicle set on fire in Urumqi, Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China July 6, 2009. Similar rioting and unrest broke out in Xinjiang on June 25 and 26, 2013. (Photo: CCTV)

Knife-wielding mobs of presumably ethnic Uighur protesters clashed with Chinese police in the restive predominantly Muslim area of Xinjiang province today, setting off a series of bloody confrontations that left at least 27 people dead, including nine policemen, 10 protesters, and at least eight civilians.

Some of the fiercest fighting occurred in Shanshan county, approximately 250 kilometers east of the regional capital of Urumqi, an area that was last affected by similar unrest in July 2009. The violence today began around 6 a.m. (local time) when unidentified assailants armed with knives attacked police stations, a local government building, and a construction site in the remote Lukqun township of Shanshan county, according to Chinese state media. Although Chinese authorities did not disclose a reason behind today’s attacks, police have launched an investigation and were reportedly hunting down additional suspects who had fled the initial melee.

Dolkun Isa, secretary of the World Uighur Congress, stated in an interview with Voice of America that it was difficult to confirm exact details about today’s unrest, mostly because of the heavy police presence “and atmosphere of ‘martial law’ that he says now exists in the area.”

Recent Tensions

Tensions have remained high in Xinjiang this year between ethnic Uighur Muslims, a Turkic-speaking minority who share more cultural similarities to Central Asia than eastern China, and the majority Han Chinese. The Uighur community has historically blamed Chinese authorities for repression and discrimination. Additional violence and state-sponsored crackdowns against the Muslim minority have increased since April.

On June 20, Chinese courts in Xinjiang sentenced 19 ethnic Uighurs to prison for inciting religious extremism and other related charges. It is not clear if today’s violence was linked to the sentencing of the 19 suspects. At least some members of the Uighur population have endorsed and participated in regional terrorist and insurgent organizations, most notably the al Qaeda-linked Eastern Turkistan Islamic Party. [For background on the Turkistan Islamic Party, see LWJ report, Turkistan Islamic Party identifies senior leader killed in Afghanistan.]

Previously, 21 people were killed in April in an violent clash that included an assault on a police station near the southern city of Kashgar, close to Xinjiang’s narrow frontiers with Afghanistan and Pakistan, according to the Globe and Mail.

China had reportedly installed 40,000 high-definition ‘Eagle-Eye’ surveillance cameras in Xinjiang in July 2010, a full year after a massive Uighur uprising in Urumqi left 200 dead and 1,700 injured. The Chinese Government has repeatedly shut down Internet, wireless phone service, and international phone services in Xinjiang province, including for a full year after the July 2009 riots. While it is unclear at the moment what the status of connectivity is in Xinjiang, search results for the words “Xinjiang” and “Lukqun,” in both English and Chinese, were unavailable on Chinese search engines, according to residents interviewed by Sky News.

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Map Source: Sky News

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17 Comments

  • Barry Larking says:

    Stand back and watch how ‘insurgency’ and ‘insurgents’ are treated in the P.R.C. And how vocal western human rights campaigners will be ignored. Will Edward Snowden make his new friends aware of his high minded approach to internet freedom and privacy?

  • Tony McDill says:

    why put ‘rioters’ on quote? 3 people died in Boston you called it terrorist attack, and now terrorists took away 8 civilian’s life (Both uighur and Han), and attacked state police office you call it ‘clash’? Is 911 a ‘clash’ too? God save you media people treat innocent lives differently overshadowed by political rancor.

  • mike merlo says:

    ‘this’ should make for pretty good ‘theater’ if the Communist Chinese are able to provide ‘concrete’ evidence directly linking the people who initiated the violence in Shanshan Xinjiang & Muslim Fundamentalist Extremist Groups located in Pakistan

  • realist says:

    Armed rioters ???? Why don’t u say MUSLIMS. No need to appease these criminals with politically correct words anymore.

  • tanka says:

    chinese are the enemy of western countries. They hate because they feel hopelessly inferior to western people, specially chinese women have weakness for western man. Tehy have inferiority complex. Chinese societies are the one of the worst in the world,no morality,communist mindset, robotic nature,always paranoid , not trust worthy. Leader of axis of evil is not russia but it is china. China is controlling russia,iran,north korea,pakistan, and maybe cuba,venezula and ecudor.
    Scum is china.

  • Bill S. says:

    According to the Japanese language Asahi Shinbun (they also have a much truncated English version) their local news office reporters were able to telephone into the area Beijing. They interviewed a number of people in the immediate vicinity of the police station which was supposedly attacked. So there is no telephone shut down at all. According to a restaurant owner about a kilometer away who identified himself as being “Hwei” (Moslem) he heard protracted gunfire and explosions and shut his restaurant down. A ethnic Chinese (“Han”) woman who lives just 300 meters away from the police station said that there was a curfew and that only the police and soldiers could be seen on the street.
    The Asahi advances the explanation that “terrorism” and claims of “terrorist” groups loudly trumpeted by the Chinese government are just a cover up. The Asahi believes that it is deep running tensions between the Hwei (Uighurs, but Moslames of any sort) and Han (ethnic Chinese) that are the cause of the riots. They also think that the riots are not attacks on a police station but instead racial clashes between Hwei (Moslam) and Han (Chinese).
    The murder of a Hwei (Uighur) worker in Cnaton some ten years ago is not forgoten, nor are the 2009 “riots” which some people claim took over 2,000 lives.
    For a short time in the 1920s Shinkiang was a self declared independent country, until the Chinese Nationalist government (KMT) snuffed out the rebellion. Shinkiang, whether it was under Nationalist or Communist rule, continues to resist being swallowed up by Chinese culture and cultural norms.
    Bordered on one side by Kyrghizistan, and on the other by Mongolia, with which the inhabitants share racial, linguistic and cultural links . Shinkiang is really supposed to be a “autonomous , self governing region”. This is just so much more window dressing as the Chinese authorities pursue an active policy of pressuring Shinkiang into a Chinese mold.

  • timur says:

    @ Tanka
    I feel safer in Chinese cities than in Muslims ones. Just saying.
    Also find Chinese not with a inferiority complex but self assured or superior (at least in the 15 years). One patriotic guy, why I met, was so boisterous and over the top, smug and almost in your face I wanted smack him. But that would not have gone well in a Chinese opera house.
    One you said that the Chinese have no morality , why did you mince words? You should have gone full church lady on us and said they were the ‘soNS OF SHAITAN!’
    Is the PRC our enemy? Certainly! So is the successor of the KGB and innumerable Muslims groups. What is your point?

  • gb says:

    Well at least we know where @Tanka stands…lol

  • Larchmonter says:

    The Chinese press used ‘rioters’ to describe the initial criminal reports.
    They don’t usually focus on Muslim or Islam in their reports of Uyghur separatists, extremists or terrorists.
    Two reasons for this.
    Riots are endemic and very feared in China society. Stability is the number one concern.
    So the crime of rioting is universally vilified throughout China social strata.
    Secondly, Muslims are much less radicalized, even in Xinjiang. Relgious beliefs, except for Falun Gong, are not a serious issue in China. So, the initial description usually stays away from identifying the problem as Islamic terror.
    However, President Xi did propose China and the U.S. team up to combat global terrorism. Of course, Obama, the great Fraud and friend of jihad, has not responded since that California meeting.

  • suraj says:

    Bill. Here’s a vid on Al qaeda’s message to indian muslims. //www.youtube.com/watch?v=6lBpvxA478k
    Any thoughts about the message?

  • g says:

    Tanka,
    For me, the foremost enemies of western countries are the fundamentalist muslims. Taking a lesson from those enemies, I say ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ I would not mind seeing some Chinese drones hovering over Pakistan showing a little less restraint than the American ones. (scum is Pakistan)

  • gb says:

    It will be very interesting to see how The Chinese handle this religious uprisng. They are obviously well known for their brute force approach with regard to political insurrection. This could be a politically touchy situation considering the investments made recently in PAK. Anyone hazard to take a stab at how they may handle a sustained Muslim uprising?

  • Bill S. says:

    Further reports in the Japanese language press filed from Urumqi by Japanese correspondents state that radio broadcasts in Urumqi by Shinhwa, China’s official news agency , now put the number of dead in the riots at 35. Of these they say that two are policemen, 11 are Hwei (Moslems, mostly likely Uighurs, but possibly other ethnic groups) and do not give a break down for the other 22 victims. Japanese news reports dismiss activity of Islamic extremist organization and instead continue to blame deteriorating relations between Hwei
    (Moslems) and Han (ethnic Chinese)

  • Larchmonter says:

    Xinhaunet’s report as of 6/28/13 refers to the total killed by rioters as 24, down from 27, and police killed 11 of the rioters by shooting them. The police captured 4.
    The report refers to the event as terrorism.
    The U.S. State Department criticized the Chinese government for discrimination and restrictions of the Muslims and Uyghurs.
    China’s Foreign Ministry rejected the U.S. comments and indicated the U.S. has suffered terrorists attacks and should know the dangers of terrorism.
    Global Times, another government voice, also calls the event terrorism, extremism and criminal.
    These most recent events in Xinjiang have been in quiet, agricultural towns and have shocked the local populations deeply. Ironic, since the intent of the terrorists was to promote separatism. Instead, it generated revulsion and the Uyghurs cling deeper to the government and the need for stability.

  • mike merlo says:

    @gb
    “Anyone hazard to take a stab at how they may handle a sustained Muslim uprising?”
    Domestically they will kill and or imprison any and all that have the remotest of connection(s) to such behavior or activity. The response will also be one of overwhelming force & Zero Tolerance.
    Internationally it’ll depend upon the ‘source’ & the ‘nature’ of the link

  • engineer says:

    @ Bill S
    Point/s of clarification.
    ‘Hwei’ (actually Hui) are ethnic Chinese (i.e. Han) Muslims, although in some cases are descended from Mongols. Han are the majority ethnicity of China. Hui are more numerous further to the East, in Gansu province for example.
    ‘Hui’ does not mean ‘Muslim’ in Chinese.
    Uighurs are Turkic (and in some cases Turco-Mongol) by ethnicity and language, and are usually Muslims. They are descendants of Manichean, and later, Buddhist, civilisations.
    @LWJ staff
    Uighurs are a minority in Xinjiang only because of decades of state-sponsored emigration/colonisation by Han Chinese. There are grievances over langauge policy, the administration/restriction of religion by the state, and economic disenfranchisement – for example, bearded Uighurs may not hold positions in state-run companies or the government administration. Locals interview by the Guardian Newspaper put the violence down to demands from ‘community workers’ that locals shave off their beards and unveil their women. The ‘mobs’ were quite likely wielding knives, because the government does allow Uighurs to carry knives for cultural reasons. Beards are a problem though.

  • mike merlo says:

    @engineer
    Uighurs are a minority because they are a conquered ‘people.’
    “…a Turkic-speaking minority who share more cultural similarities to Central Asia than eastern China,” while there is much truth to the aforementioned. Biologically, hence genetically, the Uighurs have more in common with their ‘cousins’ from the ‘East.’ Culturally one could easily make the argument that it is their ‘kin’ to the North of them with whom they have just as or nearly as strong Cultural ties as they with those to the West & South West of them.

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