Police in China's restive far-western Xinjiang region killed seven kidnappers in a hostage rescue, official media reported on Thursday, calling the suspects members of a terror gang.

The kidnappers took two people hostage late on Wednesday in Pishan County in the southern part of Xinjiang, said the region's official news website (www.tianshannet.com).

When police responded the assailants resisted arrest and launched assaults, killing one police officer and injuring another, said the report.

Seven of the suspects were shot dead and four were wounded and caught, said the report. The two abductees were freed.

The reports did not say explicitly whether the alleged kidnapping was related to ethnic tensions in the region, where many members of the largely Muslim Uighur minority resent the presence of Han Chinese and the controls of the central government.

Pishan, an oasis county near the Taklamakan Desert, is located in the ethnic Uighur-dominated area of Xinjiang that is no stranger to violence, Xinhua news agency said in a report.

Calls to the Xinjiang government by Reuters were not answered.

In July 2009, Uighurs rioted against Han Chinese residents in Urumqi, the regional capital of Xinjiang, killing at least 197 people, mostly Han, according to official estimates.

Xinjiang sits astride south and central Asia, and China sees it as a bulwark in this volatile part of the world, making it all the more jumpy about unrest.

In September, courts in Xinjiang sentenced four people to death for violence in two cities over the summer that left 32 people dead.

The government blamed the incidents in Kashgar and Hotan -- both in the majority Uighur southern part of Xinjiang -- on religious extremists and separatists who want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan for their people who speak a Turkic language.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Ron Popeski)