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The Wild, Wild West: Rioting in Western China

At least 27 people died in rioting in far western China on Wednesday, when protesters attacked a police station and government offices and the police fired on the crowd, state media said. It was the worst spasm of violence for years in Xinjiang, a region troubled by tensions between Uighurs, an overwhelmingly Muslim ethnic minority, and China’s Han majority…

“This clash did not happen by chance,” said the spokesman, Dilxat Raxit, who lives in Sweden. “There have been sweeps and crackdowns in the area, leading to many Uighur men disappearing, and the authorities have refused to give information about their whereabouts,” he said, citing recent phone conversations with residents…

The government has placed blame for past violence in Xinjiang on groups it accuses of using terror to seek independence for the region, including the East Turkestan Islamic Movement. But advocates of Uighur self-determination and some foreign scholars say the discontent has local causes and is not orchestrated from abroad.

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