Two men have been sentenced to death and three others to prison terms over a deadly clash in the traditionally Muslim region of Xinjiang, Chinese state media reported.
The ethnicity of the defendants was not given. But their names suggest they belong to the Turkic-speaking Uighur minority that has long complained of state discrimination.
Fifteen officials or security personnel were among those killed in the clash, which took place at a house.
The April 23 violence was Xinjiang\’s deadliest in months. It highlights growing tension between Uighurs, authorities, and ethnic majority Han Chinese migrants.
The government says the clashes broke out when security officials were attacked by a "terrorist group" after noticing suspicious behavior at a home near the city of Kashgar.
Some exiled Uighur activists dispute the claim, saying the violence was caused by the shooting death of a young Uighur boy by armed security personnel.
Such disagreements are not unusual following clashes between Uighurs and authorities.
Beijing says it is fighting a war against Islamic terrorism in Xinjiang. But many Uighurs say that threat is being exaggerated to justify heavy-handed policies that restrict their religion and culture.
Officials pointed to possible foreign involvement in the latest violence, saying "terrorists" at the Kashgar home viewed materials "from abroad" that advocated religious extremism.
Police say the group was amassing explosives and knives as part of a plan to "do something big" in Kashgar sometime this summer. They did not elaborate.
Musar Asar, who officials say was one of the group\’s "key members," was sentenced to death following the Monday trial. He was said to have formed the group and was in charge of making explosives.
Another man, Rehman Wuper, also received the death penalty for allegedly helping launch the attacks.
Fifteen police and community workers were killed in the violence. Police also killed six members of the "terrorist group." Others have been arrested and are expected to soon be tried.
The incident comes amid rumbling ethnic tensions between the Muslim Uighur and Han Chinese communities.
In 2009 almost 200 people – mostly Han Chinese – were killed in deadly rioting in Xinjiang\’s capital, Urumqi.
In June, 35 people were killed in rioting in the township of Lukqun, about 200km (120 miles) south-east of Urumqi.