At least three explosions have been reported in China's Xinjiang province, killing two people and injuring several more, Chinese state media said Monday.
An explosion hit a shopping area on Sunday in Luntai county, on the northern edge of the Taklamakan desert, while two more blasts were reported in nearby towns, the Xinjiang Communist Party committee said. Luntai county is 220 miles southwest of the capital, Urumqi.
"At present, all the injured have been sent to hospital for full treatment, local social order is normal, and the cases are being investigated," said the Tianshan news portal, which is run by the regional branch of the Communist Party.
"Public security officers quickly handled the situation," it added, without giving details.
The blasts came as China punished 17 regional officials and police "for being accountable" for a July 28 attack that led to almost 100 deaths of police, officials and civilians, and for the subsequent killing of a pro-Beijing imam.
The government said 37 civilians were killed in the July 28 attack and 59 "terrorists" were gunned down by security forces in two towns in Shache county in Xinjiang's far south. Police arrested 215 people, Xinhua said.
Xinjiang has experienced rising unrest in recent months blamed on opposition from the region's native Muslim Turkic Uighur ethnic group seeking to overthrow Chinese rule.
Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say the government's repressive policies in Xinjiang, including curbs on Islam, have provoked unrest, a claim Beijing denies.
In every one of the armed attacks that have swept China in recent months, killing scores at train stations and monuments, the Chinese government had cleaned up the site of the incident within 24 hours.
Uighur rights advocates often point out that in a tightly restricted media environment like China's, nearly all the information on Uighur affairs and the attacks attributed to Uighur separatists come from Chinese official sources.
Authorities said that on July 28 a gang attacked a police station and government buildings in Shache county near Kashgar, killing 37 people before police shot dead 59 of the attackers.
Two days later, a leading pro-government Muslim cleric was murdered in a Kashgar mosque. State media reported he was killed by “three thugs influenced by religious extremist ideology.”
State media reported Sunday that Communist Party officials in Xinjiang had punished 17 officials and police officers for their failures relating to the two July incidents. He Limin, the party chief of Shache county, was stripped of his party position and demoted, and the deputy party chief and county police chief were both fired.
Al Jazeera with wire services
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