Chinese security forces have shot dead up to 12 Uighurs in a raid on what they describe as a munitions center in Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, in the country’s northwest. The raid was carried out on Aug. 23, only three days after authorities staged what it called an “antiterrorism” operation in the area, but news of the action has been kept under wraps until now.
Local residents witnessed 80 security personnel in the vicinity of Kuybagh township attacking a facility where a group of Uighurs were reportedly training with explosives. One man who spoke on condition of anonymity told Radio Free Asia that “they had made a huge weapon. One of them blew their own head off, or they wouldn’t have been discovered.”
Beijing frequently imposes information blackouts on what it calls “terrorist acts” conducted by members of Xinjiang’s Muslim Uighur population. Human-rights groups, on the other hand, claim that the Chinese authorities exaggerate the terrorist threat in order to justify their own use of force, and point out that the Chinese government has carried out systematic discrimination against the Uighur population.