Chinese state media reported that an ethnic Uighur deputy head of public security in China’s Aksu city in the autonomous Xinjiang region, Maimaitijiang Tuohuniyazi was killed by Chinese police during an operation on a “nest of terrorists.”
In the past two years, hundreds of people have been killed because of the unrest in the Xinjiang region which is mostly populated by the Muslim Uighurs speaking a Turkic language, where China's repressive policies - including control of religion and Uighur culture - have intensified.
Analysts say, most of the economic benefits of the strategic region, which is crucial for China's growing energy needs, have gone to the Han Chinese - the country's biggest ethnic group - stoking resentment among Uighurs.
Chinese security forces claim that these operations are being launched to find the “terrorists” involved in the attack that occurred at a coal mine in Aksu last September killing at least 16 people including five police officers.
However, human rights groups believe Beijing is trying to systematically erase the cultural and religious identity of Xinjiang.
Uighurs are subjected to discrimination in many respects, including being prevented from practising their faith openly, the banning of beards and headscarves and being prevented from teaching their children the Quran. Officials and people younger than 18 are banned from participating in religious activities.