At least two people were killed and several injured when multiple blasts hit three different locations in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang on Sunday. Although the cause of the blasts was unknown, the regional government blamed terrorist groups for the attacks.
The blasts hit at least three locations, including a shopping area, in Luntai County, which lies about 220 miles southwest of Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, and are being investigated by officials, according to Associated Press. Xinjiang is home to the Muslim Uighur minority community who accuse Beijing of religious persecution. In turn, the Chinese government has cracked down on local separatist forces, accusing them of several terror attacks around the country in recent months.
"China's policies have led people to resist fiercely in order to maintain their dignity," Dilxat Raxit, a spokesperson for the World Uighur Congress exile group, said in a statement responding to the explosions, according to Agence France-Presse.
The explosions occurred even as China's Supreme Court on Sunday announced new regulations applicable to prosecuting those “organizing, leading and participating in terrorist organizations," "inciting secession" and "funding terrorism," Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, reported.
On Sunday, the government punished 17 officials and police officers for an attack in Xinjiang region in July, which killed 37 civilians and injured 94 people. In the same attack, police shot down 59 terrorists and arrested 215 more, Xinhua reported. Last year, more than 200 people were reportedly killed in attacks targeting civilians.
Earlier this month, the Chinese government handed a death sentence for three men charged with an attack on Kunming train station in China’s southwest and announced life imprisonment for a woman who was pregnant at the time of her detention. The attack at the station occurred in March when the assailants stormed the station and, in a stabbing spree, killed at least 31 and injured 141 people.