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China: 6 would-be suicide bombers killed

BEIJING -- Chinese police shot and killed six would-be bombers Monday in the latest violence to strike the restive far northwestern region of Xinjiang, a local government spokesman and official website said.

Police were called to a business district in the town of Shule in the morning to investigate a suspicious man carrying what appeared to be an explosive device, according to TS News, which specializes in news about Xinjiang.

It said the man was shot and killed after he charged police with an axe and attempted to detonate the device. Another five suspects with bombs were also shot and killed as police conducted a cleanup operation, the site said, without elaborating. It said no officers or onlookers were injured.

An official with the Shule county propaganda department, who gave only his surname, Yu, confirmed the report but declined to offer further details.

Chinese authorities tightly control information from the Xinjiang region, and independent accounts of events there are not available.

No word was given on the identity of the suspects.

At least 400 people have been killed in and outside the region over the past two years in violence China blames on radicals among Xinjiang's native Uighur ethnic group.

Homemade explosive devices have often featured in the violence, which has ranged from assaults on police stations to knife attacks on train travelers.

Critics and human rights advocates say Uighurs have chafed under the repressive rule of the Han Chinese-dominated government and complain of economic disenfranchisement with the inflow of Han Chinese to their homeland.

Authorities have responded to militants' attacks by launching a one-year crackdown on violence in Xinjiang, where security was already tight following riots in the regional capital in Urumqi in 2009 that left nearly 200 people dead.