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China Sentences 12 to Death for Xinjiang Violence

Xinjiang province, China

Xinjiang province, China

A court in China’s far west on Monday sentenced 12 people to death in connection with July clashes that authorities have blamed on terrorists, state media reported.

The court in the town of Kashgar gave another 15 people suspended death sentences. Nine others received life sentences and 20 others were handed prison terms of four to 20 years.

The defendants’ names suggest most are ethnic Uighurs. The minority group, which is predominantly Muslim, long has complained of government persecution in Xinjiang. Hundreds have been killed in violence there in the past two years.

The sentences stem from July 28 incidents in Elixku and Huangdi townships that remain hazy.

According to the Associated Press, the state Xionhua News Agency reported that attackers wielding knives and axes struck a police station and government offices, killing 37 civilians before police opened fire on them and killed 59 people. Uighur activists outside of China said security forces opened fire on peaceful protesters.

Independent confirmation is nearly impossible because China tightly controls the flow of information from the remote region.

Beijing has said it’s cracking down on terrorism following several public attacks believed to be the work of Uighurs.

Chinese state television said two men attacked and killed a pregnant policewoman in Xinjiang last Friday. It was not clear if the assailants have been arrested.