BEIJING (AP) _ Police in China's far western Muslim province of Xinjiang shot and killed two members of a gang blamed for a string of deadly explosions, a Chinese newspaper reported today.

Authorities blamed the group for stirring up unrest and killing an unspecified number of people in the Hetian region in southwestern Xinjiang, about 435 miles northeast of Islamabad, Pakistan.

Unemployment, discrimination and curbs on religion have fueled anti-Chinese sentiment in Xinjiang. The strongest reaction has been from an armed separatist movement among the region's largest ethnic group, the Uighurs.

Police shot and killed the leader of the alleged gang on Sept. 4, the China Daily reported, giving his name in Chinese characters as Kurexi but giving no details about the group. On Sept. 11, an elite branch of the police surrounded Kurexi's followers in a rural area and killed one of them, arrested two others and seized a batch of homemade weapons, the report said. A fourth person killed himself, the newspaper said.

Chinese authorities put tight controls on foreign reporters who try to visit Xinjiang and usually suppress information about unrest in the region.

The China Youth Daily report said only that the explosions occurred in the second half of this year, but gave no details.