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In China, Xinjiang government again delays reports of massive loss of lives

This article was originally published on ifj.org on October 1, 2014.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) criticises the government of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region for deliberately delaying reports by at least four days after a series of explosions occurred in the region, killing at least 50 people.

On the night of September 25, 2014 the Tianshan website, controlled by the Xinjiang government, reported that a series of bomb explosions occurred on September 21. The incident killed 50 people and injured 54. According to Global Times, the explosions happened in several locations in Xinjiang around 5pm on Sunday. The places included a shop in Luntai County and two police stations in the townships of Yangxia and Terakbazar.

It was reported that 40 "terrorists" were killed by police or suicide bombs. Six civilians, two police officers and two auxiliary police officers were killed in the attacks. However, the report did not disclose the reason for the explosions and said the explosions were a result of detonation a suicide bomb. According to Radio Free Asia, the explosions were related to the issue of land evictions.

IFJ Asia-Pacific Office said: "This is particularly concerning that news of such an enormous loss of life and a high number of injuries was held back despite the enormous public interest. According to section 9 of the Government Information Public Regulation, the government should voluntarily report to the public when the information involves the public interest. However, the government clearly violated the regulation, as well as irresponsibly placing people in danger."

This is not the first time the government has delayed reporting on fatal incidents. On the morning of July 28, a deadly attack occurred in Shache, Xinjiang, but the government did not report on it for two more days on July 30. State-controlled news agency Xinhua reported that several people died and were injured, but did not specify the number of casualties. On August 2, the government reported that 37 people were killed in the blasts and that police killed 59 attackers and arrested 215 people in the aftermath.

The IFJ urges China's President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to demand that the Chairman of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Nur Bekri, and Communist Party Secretary Zhang Chunxian investigate all incidents and ensure reports are released as a matter of urgency.

"Such delays are completely unacceptable," the IFJ said.

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