An ambiguous, violent clash in Kashgar
On April 24, possibly the largest violent clash since the 2009 riots in Urumqi, a confrontation in Kashgar, between police and officials and an alleged gang, left 21 people dead. The narrative seems as ambiguous as the motivations. CNN reports:
The attacks took place Tuesday afternoon after three local officials visiting homes in the area found "several suspicious persons" and knives in one house, the Xinjiang government said in a statement. When the officials alerted their superiors of the situation, the people in the house took them hostage, the statement said. Police rushed to the scene, and in the ensuing violence, six of the assailants and 15 other people were killed, it said. Two other people were injured.
But Tania Branigan quotes Dilxat Raxit telling a different story:
Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the exiled World Uyghur Congress, said the violence was sparked by the shooting and killing of a young Uighur by "Chinese armed personnel" during an illegal search of homes, citing local sources.
There's also a question of motivation. Xinjiang government officials have not released (and aren't expected to) the ethnicity of the suspects, but Hou Hanmin, the spokeswoman for the Xinjiang government, has been quoted as saying, "They had been training in their own house for several months. They were affected by extremism and hoped to commit themselves to Jihad."
In response to the allegations, Human Rights Watch's Nicholas Bequelin says, "There are a lot of deaths and a dearth of explanation about them. Every time an incident has been investigated, it brings up elements that challenge profoundly the version put out by authorities."
I doubt we will get clarity on this incident and it might have already disappeared from the news cycle, but I'll be sure to keep The Asian Crescent up to date with any developments.