Blast kills 7, wounds 14 in China`s Xinjiang area

The explosion occurred on a three-wheeled vehicle at a bridge in Aksu city.

Urumqi: A suspected bomb attack killed seven people and wounded 14 in China`s far west Xinjiang region, a government official said on Thursday.

The explosion occurred on a three-wheeled vehicle on Thursday morning at a bridge in Aksu city in southwestern Xinjiang, said Hou Hanmin, a spokeswoman for the Xinjiang government. She said the blast is being treated as a criminal case.

"It`s still unclear what material on that tricycle caused the explosion.... The police apprehended one suspect. They`re still investigating the case," Hou said.

Aksu is about 650 kilometres (400 miles) from the regional capital of Urumqi.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported that 12 people were hurt. No reason was given for the discrepancy, and that report did not give further details.

Xinjiang has been the site of ethnic conflict in recent years, including riots last summer when long-standing tensions between the Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic group, and the majority Han Chinese flared into open violence in Urumqi. The government said 197 people were killed. Hundreds of people were arrested, about two dozen were sentenced to death and many Uighurs remain unaccounted for and are believed to be in custody.

Xinjiang Governor Nur Bekri, speaking at a news conference on Thursday before the explosion was reported, said the government was battling separatist forces in Xinjiang.

"I believe we face a long and fierce and very complicated struggle. Separatism in Xinjiang has a very long history, it was there in the past, it is still here now and it will continue in the future," Nur said.

"What happened on July 05 (2009) was not ethnic conflict or a religious issue. It was a serious violent incident led by the `three forces`," he said, the term Chinese officials use to refer to terrorism, religious extremism and separatism.

Bureau Report

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