The assailants were shot dead by police

Eight people have died in a knife attack in the autonomous region of Xinjiang, China.

The BBC reports that three assailants killed five people and injured ten before being shot dead by police.

Whilst a motive has not been deduced, the BBC reports that the government often blames Muslim separatists for such attacks. Xinjiang is home to China’s Uighur ethnic minority, which is predominantly Muslim.

The BBC adds that right groups suggest violence in the region is triggered from tight controls by the government on the religion and culture of Uighurs. The government denies such claims.

The local government called the attackers “thugs” in a statement posted on their website, adding that police were on the scene within minutes.

“At present, social order is normal at the site, society is stable, and investigation work is under way,” it said.

Xinjiang reportedly issued the highest level of security alert after the attack with armed police patrolling the streets.

Six people have been arrested, including two Uighurs who shared information bout the incident.