China knife attack
REPRESENTATIONAL IMAGE: Police control the site after a knife attack outside the Guangzhou Railway Station, Guangdong province, March 6, 2015. Knife-wielding attackers slashed and stabbed people at a railway station in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.Reuters

Ethnic Uighur Muslims launched a deadly attack on a police station in China's restive Xinjiang province and killed at least 18 people with knives and bombs on Monday. 

The attack comes after China clamped down on Ramadan observance in the region, infuriating the eight million ethnic Uighur population. 

A group of 15 Uighurs, including women, attacked a traffic police checkpoint in northwest Xinjiang with bombs and knives, Radio Free Asia reported on Wednesday. 

The attackers reportedly drove a car through the checkpoint and then attacked officers who attempted to stop the car. 

"When one of the policemen at the checkpoint ran out of the booth, the car backed up, hitting him and breaking his leg. Two other suspects then rushed out of the car, using knives to attack and kill two police officers who had come to rescue their comrade," Turghun Memet, a police officer, told RFA.

"By the time armed police reached the scene, three more suspects had arrived by sidecar motorcycle and attacked the checkpoint and police cars with explosives, killing one regular police officer, another traffic policeman and one auxiliary officer," Memet said.

The police officers then shot and killed the 15 attackers, which included up to eight women, according to some officials. 

This is one of the deadliest attacks by the Islamists in China following last year's attack at a railway station in Kunming city that left 31 people dead. 

The latest attack comes after China enforced a 'ban' on Ramadan in the restive region, by forcing officials to to swear that they will not fast during the holy month of Ramadan and even forcing students and teachers not to observe fasts.

China also stoked religious sentiments by ordering halal restaurants to remain open during the day in the Jinghe county, while also ordering shops to continue selling cigarettes and alcohol.