By Elizabeth Barber
September 22, 2014

At least three explosions in China’s Xinjiang province on Sunday evening killed two people and injured several others, the latest in a string of violent upsets in the restive region, Chinese state media report.

The blasts took place in Luntai county, according to a state-run regional news portal cited by the South China Morning Post.

Xinjiang, where about half the province’s residents are ethnic Uighurs, is a pressure cooker of simmering ethnic and religious tensions. Beijing has repeatedly accused Uighur separatist groups of terrorism, blaming them for attacks that have killed hundreds of people in the region.

But many observers have said that Beijing is to blame for the violence because of its repression of the Muslim Uighurs and promotion of Han Chinese, the nation’s largest ethnic group.

The blasts coincide with an expected verdict this week in the high-profile trial of Ilham Tohti, an ex-Beijing economics professor accused of promoting separatism in Xinjiang.

“The biggest problem in Xinjiang is not anti-terrorism, nor is it terrorism,” reads a recent post by Tohti, on the Uighurbiz website he founded. “The problem is that political power is unrestrained, unequal, controlled and monopolized by the very groups that profit from it.”

Write to Elizabeth Barber at elizabeth.barber@timeasia.com.

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