Seven suspected kidnappers killed in China's restive west

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 28, 2011 9:49 PM
Seven suspected kidnappers killed in China's restive west

BEIJING (Reuters) - Police in China's far-western Xinjiang region shot and killed seven "kidnappers in a hostage rescue," the official Xinhua news agency reported Thursday.

"In the rescue, two hostages were freed. Four kidnapping suspects were wounded," said the brief English-language report that gave few other details of the incident Wednesday.

The report did not say whether the alleged kidnapping was related to ethnic tensions in the region, where many members of the largely Muslim Uighur minority resent the presence of Han Chinese and the controls of the central government.

In July 2009, Uighurs rioted against Han Chinese residents in Urumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang, killing at least 197 people, mostly Han, according to official estimates.

Xinjiang sits astride south and central Asia, and China sees it as a bulwark in this volatile part of the world, making it all the more jumpy about unrest.

In September, courts in Xinjiang sentenced four people to death for violence in two cities over the summer that left 32 people dead.

The government blamed the incidents in Kashgar and Hotan -- both in the majority Uighur southern part of Xinjiang -- on religious extremists and separatists who want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan for their people who speak a Turkic language.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley)