BEIJING (AFP) - The top official in China's restive Xinjiang has vowed to "resolutely" crack down on "terrorists" after a series of deadly attacks hit the northwestern region, the local government said Monday. "(We) must maintain a strike-hard policy in the crackdown against terrorists... to resolutely curb the continued occurrences of violent terrorist cases," Zhang Chunxian, Xinjiang's Communist Party chief, said in a statement. The comments, made at a meeting Friday, come after two violent attacks in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar at the end of July left 21 people dead, including eight suspects allegedly involved in the incidents. Zhang also pledged to fight against leaders of "religious extremist forces", vowing to crack down on "the planning and implementation of terrorist violence that makes use of religion", according to the statement on the regional government website. Xinjiang - a resource-rich and strategically vital region that borders eight countries - is home to roughly nine million Turkic-speaking Uighurs who have long chafed under Chinese rule. They complain that the migration of members of China's dominant Han ethnic group to Xinjiang is eroding their identity, and accuse the government of political and religious repression - claims Beijing denies. These tensions have spilt into sporadic bouts of unrest. Earlier last month, more than 20 people were killed in a clash between Uighur locals and police in Hotan city - violence state media also attributed to "terrorists." But some experts say the government has produced little evidence of an organised terrorist threat in Xinjiang, adding the violence stems more from long-standing local resentment. In July 2009, China was hit by its worst ethnic violence in decades when Uighurs savagely attacked Han Chinese in Urumqi - an incident that led to deadly reprisals by Han on Uighurs several days later. The government said around 200 people were killed and 1,700 injured in the 2009 violence.