In this July 10, 2009, file photo, Uighur men pray on their own in a mosque despite city wide closure of the mosques, in Urumqi, western China's Xinjiang province. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)
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Rebiya Kadeer, who heads the World Uyghur Congress (WUC), said that among the thousands of Uighurs who have fled to Southeast Asia, Turkey and elsewhere in recent years, a small number have ended up in the war-torn Middle Eastern country and have joined militant groups.The mostly Muslim Uighurs, who speak a Turkic language and number some 10 million, are native to the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang bordering Central Asia and have long complained of religious and cultural discrimination.It says among Uighurs who have fled are some seeking to train with extremists in Syria to eventually return and fight for independence in Xinjiang.China says it has boosted economic development in Xinjiang and upholds minority and religious rights for all of the country's 56 ethnic groups.
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