Restive Xinjiang reels from fresh wave of violence

Restive Xinjiang reels from fresh wave of violence
Dissent among disgruntled Uighurs could intensify today, ahead of the verdict in the case of academic Illam Tohti (above), who is on trial for inciting separatism.

China's restive Xinjiang region has been rocked by fresh violence, with multiple blasts killing two and injuring several others in a remote southern county over the weekend.

The latest blasts, which took place on Sunday but were disclosed by the authorities only yesterday, came as Beijing began taking officials in Xinjiang to task for failing to stop previous attacks, which were blamed on separatists from Xinjiang's mainly Muslim Uighur minority.

Sunday's blasts were not immediately blamed on the separatists. The explosions struck at least three locations in Luntai county in the region's south, including a shopping district, according to a brief statement posted on the Xinjiang government's official web portal yesterday.

"At present, all the injured have been sent to hospital for full treatment, local social order is normal, and the cases are being investigated," the statement added without providing further details.

China has witnessed a string of violent clashes between those it terms separatists and security forces, particularly in the country's western region, in the past year.

Attacks targeting civilians have killed more than 200 people in Xinjiang, Yunnan, and even the capital Beijing.

An assault in May on a market in the regional capital of Urumqi, for instance, left more than 30 people dead while knife-wielding assailants killed 29 people at a train station in the south-western city of Kunming in March.

The string of bloody attacks has exposed the gaps in intelligence gathering by the local authorities - a misstep for which Beijing has begun to mete out punishment.

State-media reported on Sunday that 17 government officials and police officers in the Kashgar prefecture have been disciplined for their "administrative responsibility" in terrorist attacks.

They refer specifically to a July 28 attack by masked militants that led to almost 100 fatalities - including policemen, officials and civilians - and for the subsequent killing of a pro-Beijing imam.

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