Xinjiang Review has an interesting post about local dynamics in Xinjiang, and why the attackers in Khotan would have chosen that particular spot:
Unlike other terrorists who selected high-value targets such as NYC or Mumbai, these Khotan “terrorists” strangely attacked a local police station in a remote oasis city. Why local police station? XinjiangReview has presented the stated duties of local law enforcement offices in Xinjiang (as exemplified by a Neighborhood Committee in Kashgar, see article on Xinjiangreview, “Ten Duties of A Neighborhood Committee”) (interesting, the so-called police stationed attacked is actually a Neighborhood Committee 纳尔巴格街道办事处). These duties and power range from population registration/ID check to passport application control. Since Khotan is a smaller city compared to Kashgar, the duties of a police station primarily include the duties of a neighborhood committee in Kashgar. This analyst is not interesting in seeing how many open or hidden duties a police station carries on in Khotan. It is curious to ask how does a police station handle the violator of the state, provincial, and local regulations?
For people living in northwest China, not to mention Xinjiang or Tibet, the corruption of a police station is an open secret. Guanxi, bribe, fine, dinner, and other forms of money-making and friend-making define, interpret, and implement the laws at local level. For local police, the more trouble-makers they identify and arrest, the more fine and ransom they earn. To northwest minority population, it is not surprising that the local police station is attacked.
People may wonder how could a local police station in northwest China (esp Xinjiang) committee corruption to such a degree as to act as a black society? The answer is that the police station masters political economy — they excel at how and when to deploy even develop “sensitive” issues such as the so-called three forces of “terrorism” “extremism” and “separatism” to enrich themselves by exploiting the locals on the one hand and by applying funding from the state on the other. This corruption pattern not only fits the local police station in Xinjiang, it actually fits China’s all interest groups in Xinjiang who have a share in the so-called anti-“three evil forces” campaign, ranging from project/funding-minded academics to fine-collecting police to CCP’s central committee membership contending politicians. The Khotan incident indicates that the attackers targets what they are familiar with and, therefore, hate most, the Chinese police station. It is not a high-value target or symbolical marker and certainly does not represent an ideological ambition, be it terrorism or extremism.