China has created a 100 million yuan (US$14.5 million) fund for “anti-terrorism” awards in a violence-wracked part of the country, state media reported, as the government steps up a campaign targeting unrest.

The government of Hotan in the far western region of Xinjiang will give prizes of up to 5 million yuan (US$730,000) to those who expose terrorist plots or “struggle, kill, wound, or subdue rioters”, the Hotan Daily newspaper reported Tuesday.

This file photo taken on April 16, 2015 shows paramilitary police officers standing guard outside a shopping mall in Hotan, in China’s western Xinjiang region. A prefecture in China’s restive Xinjiang region has ordered all vehicles to be equipped with GPS-like tracking software, police and media reports said on February 21, 2017, as authorities step up an “anti-terrorism” campaign. Photo: Greg Backer/AFP.

Those who share information will receive “absolute confidentiality” and will be rewarded according to their role in wounding rioters or “killing (them) in battle”.

Inside information on plots to attack crowded places, party buildings, government officers can lead to rewards of three to five million yuan, while information on people sharing firearm technology or other weapons can receive two and a half to four million.

“Reporting clues on religious extremists falsely taking the guise of religion to interfere in the legal, administrative, education and other systems, or harm national laws,” can receive up to one million, the newspaper said.

Those who report on women wearing burqas or young men with beards can receive 2,000 yuan.

The far-western region of Xinjiang is the homeland of the Uighurs — a traditionally Muslim group, many of whom complain of cultural and religious repression and discrimination.

XinJiang, China. Photo: Wikicommons.

The area has been hit by a wave of deadly unrest, with a knife attack last week in nearby Pishan county killing eight, including three attackers.

On Tuesday officials in Pishan doled out awards of 1.76 million yuan to police officers and rescue workers who took part in the operation.

Beijing regularly accuses what it calls exiled Uighur separatist groups such as the East Turkestan Islamic Movement of orchestrating attacks in the vast, resource-rich region.

But overseas experts have expressed doubts about the strength of the groups and their links to global terrorism, with some saying China exaggerates the threat to justify tough security measures.

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