Police in northeastern China say they have killed three Muslim Uighurs in a clash, saying the ‘knife-wielding’ suspects attacked officers.
A fourth suspect, a 28-year-old woman, also sustained injuries during the Monday incident in the city of Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning Province, local police said in a statement on their microblog.
The Uighurs “resisted arrest by wielding knives, so to prevent any harm to society, police quickly decided to shoot them,” the statement said.
Dilxat Raxit, the spokesman for the Munich-based World Uighur Congress, which advocates Uighur rights, said the victims were among a group of people who were trying to flee China through its northern border.
Shenyang is almost 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) away from Urumqi, the capital of the Muslim-majority Xinjiang region, which has witnessed sporadic violence in recent years, blamed by authorities on ‘Uighur militants.’ Uighurs have denied the accusation against them.
Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say Beijing’s policies in Xinjiang have provoked discontent, a claim the Chinese government denies.
China also maintains that the Turkic ethnic group is separatist, and that some groups in the Uighur community are already attempting to establish an independent state.
The Uighur briefly declared independence twice before, in 1933 and 1944. The region, however, was brought under the complete control of China in 1949.