15 police officers and civilians were killed in the raid.
Twenty-one people died as Chinese police raided a suspected terrorist hideout where three people were taken hostage in the far-western region of Xinjiang, a report said on Wednesday.
Six suspects were among the dead, while police detained eight others at the house in Bachu county near China’s westernmost city of Kashgar, the regional government’s Tianshan Net website reported.
The incident began on Tuesday afternoon when three local government workers called at the house, where they saw “suspicious people’’ and knives, said the report.
The workers telephoned officials to report their suspicion but were taken hostage by “thugs” hiding in the house, it said.
The first group of police who raided the house were attacked and killed by the suspects, who also murdered the three hostages and set fire to the house, in what authorities deemed a “violent terrorism case”.
Armed police reinforcements arrived and overpowered the suspects after a shoot-out, the report said.
According to a preliminary investigation, the suspects were part of a group planning terrorist activities, it said.
Ten of the 15 police and civilians killed were from the region’s mainly Uighur ethnic minority, while three were members of the Han Chinese majority and two were ethnic Mongolians.
The report did not give the ethnicity of the suspects, but all previous terrorist incidents reported in the region were blamed on Uighurs.
Uighurs make up about 40 per cent of the 21.8 million people in the vast, ethnically divided region that borders Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.
The Uighurs complain of cultural and religious repression and claim that ethnic Chinese migrants enjoy the main benefits of development in the oil-rich but economically backward region.
State media have reported several ethnic clashes and terrorist attacks in recent years, and the government has accused some Uighurs of having links to terrorist groups in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Central Asia.
Courts in Kashgar and nearby Bayingolin prefecture convicted 20 people last month of organising and promoting terrorism and separatism via the internet and mobile telephones, sentencing them to up to life in imprisonment, Tianshan reported earlier.
The Xinjiang capital, Urumqi, and other areas have remained tense since protests by Uighurs escalated into rioting that left about 200 people dead and 1,700 injured in the city in July 2009.
Following the 2009 rioting, the ruling Communist Party promised to promote economic development and social stability for all ethnic groups in the region.
But in an annual human rights report last week, the U.S. State Department criticised China’s “severe official repression of the freedoms of speech, religion, association, and harsh restrictions on the movement of ethnic Uighurs.’’
It said the Chinese government used “extreme security measures’’ in Xinjiang and continued a crackdown on what Beijing calls the “three evil forces’’ of religious extremism, ethnic separatism and terrorism.
“The government continued to repress Uighurs expressing peaceful political dissent and independent Muslim religious leaders, often citing counter-terrorism as the reason for taking action,’’ the U.S. report said.
Alim Seytoff, president of the Uighur American Association, said last month’s sentencing of 20 Uighurs showed that the group was “the target of systemic state intimidation”.
Many rights groups accuse China of using the global fight against terrorism as an excuse to suppress pro-independence Uighurs since the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U. S.
At least 22 Uighurs were detained at Guantanamo Bay after U.S.-led coalition forces seized them in Afghanistan.
Most of them have been resettled in third countries without facing trial.
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