Tahir was appointed imam of the 600-year-old mosque by China's ruling Communist Party."
Beijing, July 31 - An imam of China's largest mosque was killed in a city in the country's Xinjiang region that has witnessed simmering violence over the past one year, often attributed to its ethnic population.
Jume Tahir, 74, was reportedly stabbed after he led early morning prayers at the Id Kah mosque in the county-level city of Kashgar in northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region Wednesday, BBC reported Thursday.
Tahir, who was from Xinjiang's mainly Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority, was a supporter of Chinese policies in the region.
Shortly after his death, police sealed off roads in and out of Kashgar and cut internet and text messaging links to other parts of China.
The attack came after a knife attack by a gang on government offices in Xinjiang's Yarkant county Monday, the state media reported.
Dozens of Uyghur and Han civilians were killed or injured in the attack that took place in the same prefecture.
But activists disputed this account and said that local Uyghurs were protesting against a Chinese crackdown on the observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended Monday, the BBC report said.
Tahir was appointed imam of the 600-year-old mosque by China's ruling Communist Party.
The reasons for his death remain unclear.