URUMQI, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) -- Eighteen suspects in last month's fatal terrorist attack in Shache County, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, have surrendered to police after a major campaign encouraging the public to expose them, the regional government said on Sunday.
The attack on July 28 in southern Xinjiang left 37 civilians dead and another 13 injured. A gang armed with knives and axes attacked a police station and government offices in Elixku Township, and some moved onto Huangdi Township, attacking civilians and smashing vehicles as they passed.
Police shot dead 59 of the attackers and arrested 215 others, confiscating banners proclaiming "holy war."
Few of the surrendered suspects were diehard terrorists, and many of them were cheated or coerced into joining the attack, said Abdulkeyum Abdukhadir, an official from the Shache public security bureau.
If found guilty, the suspects who turned themselves in will get a lighter sentence, while those who are still on the loose were warned to surrender as soon as possible, he said.
On Aug. 1, the Shache government made an announcement calling for public tip-offs about the suspects' whereabouts.
"In the past several days, I have been thinking about the innocent people who were injured and killed in the attack. Their children and parents must be in pain for their lifetime," said Yusup Eli, one of the suspects.
In the early morning of July 28, he was attending Muslim worship when a group of people break into the mosque and roared about "holy war." "Thinking about nothing, I rushed home to pick up a hoe to use as a weapon and joined in the rioting," he said.
"I realized my deeds were serious crimes and I finally decided to surrender," Yusup Eli said.
"My mind went blank as I followed others to attack innocent people, who had nothing against me," said Osman Seyit who was coerced with threats into joining the attack.
He fled after the incident, explaining, "I ran away into the desert and later hid in corn fields. I was so scared after seeing the police on the streets and the hearing the broadcast asking me to surrender."
"My mother doesn't know about my bad deeds yet. If she did, she would cry her heart out," he added.
He also advised others to "do the rights thing and not follow the terrorists."