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Separatists in the Xinjiang region assassinated a pro- government Muslim leader - the latest in a series of political killings, Reuter reports.

Pro-independence "splittists" in the regional capital, Urumqi, had killed six or seven people and injured four since February, a local official said, adding that the killings of the mullah, Akenmu Sidike, an adviser and two policemen were all politically motivated.

Muslim separatists had, he said, also killed a vice-chairman of Xinjiang's political consultative conference on 29 April.

In a call for action that appeared to indicate there was sympathy for separatists among some cadres in the mainly Muslim region, the official Xinjiang Daily demanded: "Party members ... implicated in political bombings, assassinations or other violent terrorist activities must be immediately investigated and punished with due severity."

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