China raises death toll to 18 in Xinjiang violence

July 20, 2011 07:28

BEIJING - China on Wednesday raised the death toll to 18 from a clash at a police station in the restive far western region of Xinjiang, saying that 14 "rioters" died along with two policemen and two hostages in the worst violence there in a year.

Government officials previously said at least four people were killed in what they described as a terrorist attack but which the Germany-based exile group World Uyghur Congress said was an attack on peaceful protesters.

The congress had said 20 Uighurs were killed -- 14 beaten to death and 6 shot dead -- and 70 arrested, when police opened fire on protesters, leading to fighting between the two sides.

The clash marked the worst violence in about a year in the far western region, home to many Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking people native to the area, many of whom resent the growing presence of majority Han Chinese in Xinjiang.

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