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September 20, 2017

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China authorities arrest 7 suspects connected to Xinjiang attack: report

HONG KONG -- Chinese police have arrested seven people suspected of being linked to a deadly stabbing spree and explosion at a railway station in the restive Muslim-majority region of Xinjiang, state-run media said Saturday.

On April 30, the last day of a visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to the region, attackers armed with knives and explosives carried out an attack at the southern railway station in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi, killing one person and wounding 79.

Two of the alleged assailants were also killed in the attack.

"Seven fleeing suspects were captured on May 14 by police in Xinjiang, and are being questioned in relation to the ongoing investigation," the Global Times daily reported in its Chinese edition Saturday.

There was no similar report in its English language edition, and no announcement by authorities confirming arrests.

Police had earlier identified one of the suspected attackers, Sedirdin Sawut, 39, originally from the south of Xinjiang.

Two of Sawut's brothers, together with his wife and one of his cousins, were among those arrested, according to the report.

The seven suspects arrested by police this week were found "on a farm of the town of Changji, in the district of Jimsar, not far from Urumqi," the Global Times, which is close to the ruling Communist party, added.

Xinjiang, which borders Central Asia, is a vast semi-desert region rich in natural resources, where the mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking Uighurs are the main ethnic group.

It has been the site of a marked increase in violence over the past year, which Beijing has blamed on separatists and Muslim fundamentalists.

Rights groups say tensions are driven mainly by cultural oppression, intrusive security measures, and immigration by Han, China's ethnic majority, millions of whom have flocked to Xinjiang in recent decades.

The Uighurs claim they are harassed by the authorities, forgotten by the economic boom, and victims of severe political repression of their religion and culture.

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