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September 23, 2017

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China Xinjiang teen dies after police clash: report

BEIJING--A teenager in China's Xinjiang has died after speeding past police checkpoints and clashing with officers, state media said Thursday, in the latest violence to hit the restive far-western region.

The vast area has seen periodic violence between authorities and the mainly Muslim Uighur minority that is concentrated there, with several incidents this year in Aksu prefecture where the latest incident occurred.

Seventeen-year-old Abdul Basiti Abdulimiti "was riding a motorcycle and rushed through two consecutive security checkpoints" on Saturday, said a report by the Tianshan web portal run by the Xinjiang government.

An officer "fired warning shots into the air", after which Abdulimiti "assailed the officer and seized his firearm", it said, citing Aksu police.

"After being wounded Abdulimiti was sent to hospital, where he died in the early hours of the next morning after rescue efforts were unsuccessful," the report said, without specifying how the teenager was injured.

The US-funded Radio Free Asia, citing local residents, said police killed the teenager and wounded two of his passengers after they ran a red light, prompting protests.

The Uyghur American Association condemned the incident as "extrajudicial".

Overseas campaign groups say unrest in Xinjiang is driven by cultural oppression, intrusive security measures and massive immigration by Han Chinese.

But authorities routinely label such incidents as "terrorism" and argue that China faces a violent separatist movement in the area motivated by religious extremism and linked to radical overseas groups.

Mentions of "Aksu 17 year old" had been deleted from China's popular Twitter-like site Sina Weibo as of Thursday.

Meanwhile authorities on Wednesday detained a resident of Xinjiang's capital of Urumqi for 15 days for retweeting "rumours" about the incident, Tianshan said.

"Hostile foreign forces maliciously distorted the facts, fabricating rumors about a 'shooting after running a red light' in order to manipulate public opinion," it said.

Aksu — in Xinjiang's far west near the border with Kyrgyzstan — was the scene of triple explosions in January that killed at least three people, with police shooting dead six people soon afterwards.

The next month 11 people in Aksu were killed in an incident that police called a "terror attack."

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