December 29th, 2011
01:25 AM ET

China, Uighurs offer different account of deadly shooting

Chinese officials said they killed seven members of the Uighur ethnic group in the restive western region of Xinjiang in order to free two hostages - an account the Uighurs disputed.

The hostages - local villagers looking for their lost sheep in the rural county of Pishan outside of Hotan city– were kidnapped by a group of Uighurs on Wednesday night, said Hou Hanmin, a spokeswoman for the chief of the regional information office in Xinjiang.

The operation to rescue them left one police officer dead and wounded another, he said.

However, Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the Stockholm-based World Uighur Congress, said the shooting did not stem from a rescue operation.

Police opened fire when locals clashed with officers during a demonstration outside the police bureau, he said. The Uighurs were protesting a recent security crackdown in Hotan city.

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