Eight Killed in Attack by 'Suicide Bombers' in Western China (Updated)

Chinese police shot and killed five suspects during a pre-dawn clash Sunday with attackers who hurled homemade bombs at government buildings in the country's Xinjiang region, according to state media.

Two police officers and a security guard were wounded during the attacks on a local police station and office of industry and commerce in Xinjiang's Kuqa County, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The attackers, in taxis, threw explosives while they were driving by at around 2:30 a.m. local time.

Xinhua said troops had been deployed to the area.

Chinese officials have been saying for months that terrorist attacks pose one of the biggest threats to the Olympics.

Wang Wei, vice president of the Beijing Olympic Games organizing committee, said today that the attacks, which took place more than 2,300 miles away, should not affect the sporting events.

"I don't believe this will have any impact on the Olympic Games," Wang said. "Of course, we're going to strengthen security measures in the area concerned."

China had already tightened security last week in the Muslim region after assailants drove a truck into border police in the border city of Kashgar and threw bombs and stabbed them, killing 16 and wounding 15 others.

Xinjiang is one of the provinces in China where ethnic minorities dominate. China has long had a tense relationship with the 8 million Uighurs who live there. The government has accused groups that want to split off from China of being responsible for terrorist acts. Some human rights groups say they believe the threat is exaggerated and used as an excuse to crack down those who disagree with the government's polices.

--Ariana Eunjung Cha

Update:

The death toll is now up to eight. Xinhua says at least seven attackers and one security guard were killed.

Some excerpts from the Associated Press report:

The official Xinhua News Agency, citing local police, said one dozen bombings occurred at government buildings in Kuqa county in the early hours of Sunday. Xinhua described the attackers as suicide bombers.

In what appeared to be the largest attack, Xinhua said assailants drove a three-wheeled vehicle carrying explosives into the compound of the public security bureau at about 2:30 a.m., and an explosion followed that killed a security guard, injured two police and two civilians, and destroyed two police cars.

Police opened fire on the attackers, killing one. Another blew himself up, and a third was captured, Xinhua said.

Six hours later, a battle broke out in a nearby market where police found five attackers hiding under a counter, Xinhua said. The men hurled bombs at the police, who fatally shot two of them, while the remaining three killed themselves with their own bombs, made from bent pipes, gas canisters and liquid gas tanks, the news agency said.

Xinhua said the captured suspect told police that 15 people were involved in the attack. Police also seized a taxi used by the bombers, it said.


August 9, 2008; 10:31 PM ET  | Category:  Postmark Beijing
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