14 Aug 2013

Two sentenced to death in western China

6:17 am on 14 August 2013

A court in China has sentenced two men to death after clashes in the western region of Xinjiang in April left 21 people dead. The charges were murder and terrorism.

Three other men were sentenced by the Intermediate People's Court in Kashgar to prison for terms ranging from nine years to life.

The incident happened on 23 April in the town of in Selibuya in Kashgar prefecture. Fifteen officials or security personnel were among those killed.

Citing court documents, Xinhua news agency reported they had been "carrying out illegal religious activities (and) promoting religious extremism".

However, the BBC reports other accounts attribute the incident to ethnic tensions in the region.

Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur minority, who make up about 45% of the region's population. Incidents in Xinjiang are often blamed on Uighur extremists seeking autonomy for the region.