BEIJING (Reuters) - China said on Monday that Islamic militants had mounted an attack that left 11 people dead in the restive western region of Xinjiang, which announced a crackdown on "illegal" religious activities at the start of the Muslim fasting month.
The attack in Kashgar city on Sunday afternoon was the latest violence to rattle the region where Muslim Uighurs have long resented the presence of Han Chinese and religious and political controls imposed by Beijing.
It came less than 24 hours after two small blasts hit the city, which is dominated by Uighurs.
"The malign intention behind this violent terror was to sabotage inter-ethnic unity and harm social stability, provoking ethnic hatred and creating ethnic conflict," the Kashgar government said on its website (http://www.xjks.gov.cn).
Captured suspects confessed that their ringleaders had earlier fled to Pakistan and joined the separatist "East Turkestan Islamic Movement," and received training in making firearms and explosives before infiltrating back into China, the Kashgar government said.
"The members of this group all adhere to extremist religious ideas and adamantly support Jihad," said the statement, referring to the Arabic term for struggle used by advocates of militant Islam to describe their cause.