Chinese security forces in the far western region of Xinjiang killed 28 “terrorists” from a group that carried out a deadly attack at a coal mine in September. The news carried on Friday by the government-run Xinjiang Daily was the first official mention of the September 18 attack at the Sogan colliery in Aksu, in which it said 16 people – including five police officers -were killed and another 18 wounded.
US-funded Radio Free Asia, which first reported the incident about two months ago, said at least 50 people had died. Attackers fled into the mountains and authorities launched a manhunt with more than 10,000 people forming an “inescapable dragnet”, the Xinjiang Daily said.
“After 56 days of continuous fighting, Xinjiang destroyed a violent terrorist gang directly under the command of a foreign extremist group. Aside from one person who surrendered, 28 thugs were completely annihilated,” the newspaper reported.
China’s government says it faces a serious threat from rebels and separatists in energy-rich Xinjiang, on the border of Central Asia, where hundreds have died in violence in recent years. Xinjian is home to the mostly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority people. Rights groups say China has never presented convincing evidence of the existence of a cohesive armed group fighting the government.