China claims 18 killed in terror training camp

The Chinese government said Monday that it killed 18 people in a raid on a terrorist training camp in the Muslim north-western part of the country.

TheChinese government said Monday thatit killed 18 people ina raidon a terrorist training camp in the Muslim northwest of the country.

Security forces said one police officer was also killed in a lengthy gun battle on Friday, and17 people were captured. Several others escaped, state media reported.

Government forces raided the camp in southern Xinjiang, China's largest province. It borders Pakistan, and is home to an estimated 10 million Muslims.

The Chinese Security Department said the camp was run by a group called the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM).The grouphas been labelled a terrorist organization by both China and the United States.

Chinese officials said al-Qaeda has helped ETIM train at least 1,000 Chinese Muslims who want touse violence to destabilize the region and to create a separate country for China's Muslims.

Some international experts, however, are skeptical of China's characterization of the group and the seriousness of the threat.

Chinese Muslim groups based outsidethe countrysay Beijing uses the terrorist label as an excuse to attack and arrest Muslims, particularlythe Uygur minority. The Uygurs, aTurkish-speaking Muslim group in the west of the country, are the biggest Muslim ethnic minority in China, andthe majority in Xinjiang.