Chinese state media raise death toll from weekend blasts in far west to 50

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BEIJING — Chinese state media reported Thursday that 50 people, including 40 assailants, were killed in a series of explosions over the weekend in the far western region of Xinjiang, in what officials called a severe terror attack.

Regional authorities had earlier said that the explosions Sunday in Luntai county killed at least two people and injured many others.

The news portal Tianshan Net said bombs exploded at two police stations, a produce market and a store. It said the attack killed two police officers, two police assistants and six bystanders, and that 54 others were injured. It said police took swift action and 40 assailants were either shot dead or died in explosions.

Police captured two attackers, and an investigation found that Maimaiti Tuerxun, a man who was fatally shot, was responsible for the attack, the news portal said. The official Xinhua News Agency spelled the man's name as Mamat Tursun. Names for people from the Uighur and other ethnic groups in China are sometimes transcribed differently in English.

Regional authorities were not available for comment Thursday night.

Ethnic tensions in Xinjiang, home of the Muslim Uighur minority group, have killed more than 300 people in the past year and a half. Chinese authorities have blamed the unrest on foreign-influenced terrorists seeking a separate state. Many Muslim Uighurs bristle under Beijing's heavy-handed restrictions on their religious life and resent the influx of the Chinese Han majority into their homeland.

On Tuesday, a court gave a life sentence to a Uighur scholar who has criticized China's ethnic policies and sought to reduce tensions between Uighurs and the Han majority. The court found Ilham Tohti guilty of separatism, saying he incited ethnic hatred and instigated violence.

Authorities have also launched a one-year crackdown on terrorism in Xinjiang, and Chinese state media applauded Ilham Tohti's guilty verdict as a victory in that campaign.

Scholars and human rights advocates say the strike-hard campaign could further radicalize the Uighur people and result in more violence.

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