SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) — Chinese police said it raided a Koran-teaching school in Uighur region, China state media said on Wednesday, in what an exiled rights group said was a violent raid.
China media said, police "rescued 54 children from illegal preachers".
However, a German-based Uighur exile group, the World Uyghur Congress, said police had used teargas to attack an Islamic school teaching children the Koran.
"There was a fight, and the authorities used teargas on the young students, causing injuries on both sides," spokesman Dilxat Raxit said in emailed comments.
"The aim was to eradicate religious belief."
China's official Xinhua news agency said 12 of the children received burns when "the suspects ignited a flammable device to resist capture" during the incident in the remote southern Xinjiang city of Hotan.
"Acting on tips from local residents, police ... raided an 'illegal' religious preaching venue in the city, where 54 children were being held," Xinhua cited an unidentified police spokesman as saying.
"Three suspects were seized during the operation, and three police officers were wounded," the news agency said in a brief English-language report said.
Xinjiang is home to Muslim Turkic-speaking Uighur people who calls it East Turkestan.
Muslim boy beaten to death in custody?
Wednesday's clash comes after the WUC accused police in Korla city on Monday of beating a 12-year-old boy to death after a raid on an illegal Islamic school there, charges that authorities have denied.
The child, identified as Mirazhid, 12, was detained on May 20 by police while studying the Koran at a private Islamic school, the WUC said.
China restricts religious education for its youth, forcing Muslims to seek spiritual instruction in private, unsanctioned schools, the group said.
Authorities have denied the child died in police custody and have ordered the arrest of anyone spreading "distorted facts" concerning the case, Korla police said in a statement.
The police said the death of the boy was related to a beating he received at the "illegal religious school".
Police have arrested at least one Uighur youth and sentenced him to 15 days administrative detention for circulating on the Internet "false reports" that the boy died in police custody, the police statement said. — www.shafaqna.com