Chinese police raid religious school, 12 kids hurt
Staff at a religious school in heavily Muslim far western China set off explosives to fend off a police raid Wednesday and 12 children were burned, state media reported.
The Tianshan news portal for the Xinjiang region said the 12 were hospitalized but didn't say how badly they were hurt. Three police and two of the three staff at the school in Hotan city were also injured, it said.
Calls to the Hotan Public Security Bureau rang unanswered Wednesday. The Tianshan report said 54 kids were at the school when police raided it.
Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the German-based World Uyghur Congress, said the school was teaching the Quran and that paramilitary officers used tear gas on the children.
China has stepped up a campaign against illegal religious schools in Xinjiang, a sprawling region that borders Central Asia and is home to millions of largely Muslim ethnic Uighurs (pronounced WEE'-gurs) who say they have been marginalized by China's majority Han.
The government says it has vastly improved living standards in ethnic areas. China allows different faiths to practice their religion but only in state-backed churches and mosques. It does not allow religious schools.
In July 2009, rioting between Uighurs and Han Chinese killed nearly 200 people in Xinjiang's capital, Urumqi. Uighur activists say the Urumqi riots, which were followed by retaliatory attacks by members of China's majority Han ethnic group, were the result of decades of pent-up frustration with Chinese rule.
Some Uighurs opposed to Chinese rule have waged a low-intensity campaign of bombings and assassinations against Chinese officials.