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13 assailants shot dead after setting off explosives at police office in China's restive west

BEIJING, China - Police in China's western Xinjiang region shot dead 13 assailants who drove one or more vehicles into a police office building and set off explosives in an attack Saturday that injured three officers, the news website for the regional government said.

The Tianshan website said in a one-line report that no civilians were hurt in the attack in Kashgar prefecture in Xinjiang's southwest. The official Xinhua News Agency said one vehicle was used, though it did not provide specific details.

Officials in the region contacted by phone either said they were unclear about the situation or refused to comment.

It was the latest in a series of attacks pointing to growing unrest in the sprawling region of Xinjiang, where the native Muslim Uighur (pronounced WEE-gur) people want more autonomy from Beijing. Last month, a market bombing killed 43 people in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi.

Chinese authorities have blamed the attacks on extremists bent on overthrowing Beijing's rule. The government says the assailants have ties to Islamic terror groups abroad, but provides little direct evidence.

The government has sought to stem the attacks by handing down heavy punishments to people authorities say organized, led and participated in terror groups, committed arson, murder, burglary or illegally manufactured explosives. Earlier this month, China executed 13 people in Xinjiang for such crimes.

Uighur activists say public resentment against Beijing is fueled by an influx of settlers from the Han majority in the region, economic disenfranchisement and onerous restrictions on Uighur religious and cultural practices. China says it has made vast investments to boost the region's economy and improve living standards.

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