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Rioting in Muslim minority area of China leaves 27 dead

| Wednesday, June 26, 2013, 8:45 p.m.

BEIJING — Twenty-seven people were killed in riots early on Wednesday in northwest China, state-run media reported, the deadliest outbreak of violence in the restive region in years.

Communist Party officials in Xinjiang — where Uighurs, a Muslim minority, have repeatedly clashed with Han Chinese settlers — told the official Xinhua news agency that knife-wielding mobs attacked a police station, a government building and a construction site in Lukqun township starting about 6 a.m., stabbing people and setting fire to police cars.

Photos on state-run television's QQ microblog website showed at least four thoroughly burned-out police cars and a bus in front of a police station with a scorched facade and broken windows. In front of the building, a pool of water was tinged with what looked like blood.

Xinhua said 17 people — including nine policemen or security guards and eight civilians — were killed before police shot and killed 10 rioters. Three people were detained at the scene, the news agency said.

The township is in Turpan Prefecture, about 176 miles southeast of Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang. In April, 21 people, including 15 police and local officials, were killed in Xinjiang in what Chinese authorities described as a raid on a separatist group that turned deadly.

Xinjiang is approaching the four-year anniversary of riots in 2009 that left 197 people dead. Those clashes were the deadliest outbreak of ethnic violence in China in decades.

The Xinhua report gave no explanation for what sparked the violence, but microblog dispatches reporting details from the scene indicated that assailants may have used homemade explosives and described the attack as well-organized.

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