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18 'surrender' over attack in Xinjiang: report

BEIJING--Eighteen suspects have “surrendered” to police investigating an attack which led to almost 100 deaths in China's Xinjiang region, home to the mainly Muslim Uighur minority, state media said Sunday.

A total of 37 civilians and 59 “terrorists” were killed in an attack on a police station and government offices on July 28 in the far western region's Shache county, or Yarkand in the Uighur language, according to earlier reports.

It was the latest in a series of violent incidents over recent months in and connected with the vast, resource-rich region.

The toll made it the bloodiest since rioting involving Uighurs and members of China's Han majority left around 200 people dead in the regional capital Urumqi in 2009.

State-run news agency Xinhua said the 18 suspects “have surrendered to police,” citing the regional government.

“The suspects have turned themselves in under tense pressure from the public,” the news agency added, offering no further details.

Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the exiled, Germany-based World Uyghur Congress (WUC), said in a statement to AFP that the suspects gave themselves up to “save their lives” after being pursued by security forces.

Beijing has blamed a series of recent violent attacks on separatists from Xinjiang, where information is often difficult to verify independently.

Rights groups accuse China's government of cultural and religious repression they say fuels unrest in the region, which borders Central Asia.

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