11 Aug 2008

Deadly blasts in China's Xinjiang province

7:09 am on 11 August 2008

Eight people have been killed in a series of blasts in the north-western Chinese province of Xinjiang on Sunday, state media said.

The blasts, in Kuqa, a major town in southern Xinjiang more than 3,000 km from Beijing, happened before dawn.

Two militants died in the attacks, while five were killed later by police, Xinhua news agency reported. A security guard died in the attacks which targeted a police station and other government buildings.

The explosions come a day after the Olympic Games opened in Beijing, with a spectacular display of music and dancing.

Last Monday, an attack at a border police station in Xinjiang killed 16 Chinese police officers. Two Muslim Uighur suspects have been detained.

Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur people. Uighur separatists there have waged a low-level campaign against Chinese rule for decades.

China has called Uighur militants a top threat to the Games. Human rights critics and exiled Uighurs say Beijing has exaggerated the threat of violence in Xinjiang and stirred discontent by encouraging the migration of millions of Han Chinese into the region.

Many of Xinjiang's 8 million largely Muslim Uighurs chafe at the strict controls on religion that China enforces and resent influxes of Han Chinese migrant workers and businesses.

Uighurs make up slightly less than half of the region's people, and most of the rest are Han.