By Justin Sink - 05/22/14 12:51 PM EDT
A terrorist attack in China that left 31 dead and dozens more injured was "despicable and outrageous," the White House said Thursday.
According to Chinese state media, a series of explosions rocked an open-air market in the the city of Urumqi, where Islamic separatists have engaged in increasingly bloody clashes with the Han Chinese.
The Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group native to the region, are angered by the mass migration of the Han Chinese — the country's predominant ethnic group — to the resource-rich area, making it harder to compete for jobs.
In March, a mass knife attack at a subway station in Kunming left 28 dead. Six months earlier, two tourists were killed when a car rammed a pedestrian bridge in Tiananmen Square.
The offer of condolences comes at a rocky time for Sino-U.S. relations. On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the U.S. was charging five Chinese military officers with cyber crimes related to the hacking of major American defense contractors.
Beijing has denounced the move, accusing the U.S. of "hypocrisy" in a statement issued Tuesday.