- Associated Press - Friday, January 17, 2014

BEIJING (AP) - China’s restive Xinjiang region is doubling its budget for fighting terrorism following an unusually bloody year of anti-government attacks, state media reported Friday.

The northwestern region’s draft 2014 budget proposes an increase to 2 million yuan ($331,000) for fighting terrorism, the China Daily and other outlets said. That’s part of an overall 24 percent rise in the public security budget to 6.1 billion yuan ($1 billion), they said, citing documents issued Thursday at the annual meeting of the regional legislature.

The increase follows a series of clashes between authorities and members of Xinjiang’s native Turkic Muslim Uighur ethnic group that have left scores dead. Last year’s violence also included an unprecedented attack on Tiananmen Gate in Beijing that killed three Uighur assailants and two tourists.

China says the attacks are the work of Uighur separatists inspired by radical Islam. Critics say oppressive Chinese policies and strict religious controls fuel the violence.

Despite the violence, Xinjiang remains peaceful overall and its economy grew by more than 11 percent last year, Governor Nur Bekri was quoted as telling delegates. Eliminating religious extremism is key to cementing long-term stability, he said.

“We must constantly strike hard against violent terrorism, showing no mercy in accordance with the law and maintaining a high-handed posture,” Bekri said.

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