At least two suspects were shot dead and another arrested after an imam of China’s largest mosque was murdered in a city in the country’s restive Xinjiang region, police said Thursday.
Jume Tahir, 74, was stabbed after he led early morning prayers at the Id Kah mosque in the county-level city of Kashgar in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region Wednesday.
The suspects resisted arrest with knives and axes that led to their killing, Xinhua reported.
Turghun Tursun, Memetjan Remutillan and Nurmemet Abidilimit were wanted for Tahir’s murder.
Police said the three suspects were influenced by religious extremism and they planned to “do something big” to increase their influence.
Tahir, who was from Xinjiang’s mainly Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority, was a supporter of Chinese policies in the region, BBC reported.
Shortly after his death, police sealed off roads in and out of Kashgar and cut internet and text messaging links to other parts of China.
The attack come in the wake of a knife attack by a gang on government offices in Xinjiang’s Yarkant county Monday, the state media reported.
Dozens of Uyghur and Han civilians were killed or injured in the attack that took place in the same prefecture.
But activists disputed this account and said that local Uyghurs were protesting against a Chinese crackdown on the observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended Monday, the BBC report said.