8 March 2013
(c) 2013 Kyodo News
HONG KONG, March 8 -- A knife attack in northwest China's restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has left four people dead and at least eight others injured, the BBC reported Friday.
It quoted Xinjiang government spokeswoman Hau Hanmin as saying a suspect was arrested in the attack, which happened in Korla City of Bayingolin Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture on Thursday.
She could not confirm the ethnicity of the suspect or the victims, nor did she make it clear whether the incident was related to the separatist movement involving Uyghur Muslims.
But according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, the attacker was Uyghur and all the victims -- four who died and 13 who were injured -- were Han Chinese.
The advocacy group said the attacker had earlier quarreled with a Han Chinese in a business area of Korla, the center of Xinjiang's oil industry. It said the area was placed under curfew after the attack.
U.S.-based Radio Free Asia said two Uyghur attackers may have been involved.
On Thursday, China's official Xinhua News Agency quoted Xinjiang's Communist Party chief as saying the situation in restive region "remains tough" but "is improving and under control."
Zhang Chunxian, speaking in Beijing on the sidelines of an annual session of China's legislature, also called for containing, resisting and preventing the "three evil forces" of separatism, extremism and terrorism in the remote region.
In July 2009, a riot broke out in the region's capital city of Urumqi, which left nearly 200 people dead and 1,700 injured, according to government figures.
The separatist World Uyghur Congress, which calls the region East Turkestan, says China's high-handed and discriminatory policies are fueling discrimination against Uyghurs by Han Chinese.