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Xinjiang axe-man apologises on China television

A man who carried out an axe attack on mahjong players in China's volatile Xinjiang region apologised on television on Sunday, saying he was persuaded to go through with it in the name of "jihad".

BEIJING: A man who carried out an axe attack on mahjong players in China's volatile Xinjiang region apologised on television on Sunday, saying he was persuaded to go through with it in the name of "jihad".

The man is the only surviving member of a gang of three who slashed people playing mahjong in the remote city of Hotan a week ago, wounding four, one of the latest in a series of attacks in the far west region.

Graphic images showing the assailant, who was named as Mirzat, and his accomplices lunging with their weapons as they were confronted by the mahjong players were shown on state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) earlier this week.

CCTV on Sunday screened an interview with Mirzat, who was wearing an orange prison vest and had his hands cuffed, saying other members of his group convinced him to carry out the attack.

"I was told that jihad would save me from judgement after death and save me a place in heaven," he said.

"I mistakenly believed their words and did this horrible thing. I want to say sorry to the people I hurt."

The images showed a knife-wielding man standing in the mahjong hall for a few seconds before his accomplice slashed a player in the back of the head and Mirzat began lunging at a woman.

The mahjong players then picked up chairs and began attacking the men who ran out the room and were cornered by an angry mob before armed police arrived.

It is unclear whether the mob or the police killed the two assailants. Four people were wounded in the attack last Sunday, earlier reports said.

"People in the room attacked us with chairs and tables. We had not thought of that. I was really scared," Mirzat said in the interview, which was first aired late Saturday.

State television often broadcasts live confessions, which critics say deprives the accused of a right to a fair trial.

Xinjiang, home to the mainly Muslim Uighur ethnic minority, has faced a series of violent attacks in recent years.

Police shot dead 13 people Saturday after they drove into a police building in a county further west from Hotan and set off an explosion.

Beijing has vowed a year-long crackdown on terrorism in recent weeks following several high-profile attacks blamed on Xinjiang militants, which since late last year struck outside the region and targeted ordinary citizens rather than government or security personnel.

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