Getty Images photographer Kevin Frayer has visited Xinjiang, an area of northwestern China home to the Muslim Uighur people.

The area has been beset for years by violence that the government blames on Islamist militants who it says want an independent state called East Turkestan.

Exiled Uighur groups and human rights activists say the government's repressive policies in Xinjiang, including controls on Islam, have provoked the unrest.

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Chinese soldiers in riot gear secure the area outside the Id Kah Mosque, after Imam Jumwe Tahir was killed by assailants following early morning prayersKevin Frayer/Getty Images
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Uighur men drink tea at a restaurant in Old KashgarKevin Frayer/Getty Images
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Children play in the rubble of tradtional houses demolished in recent years to make way for new homesKevin Frayer/Getty Images
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A man washes himself before prayers outside abandoned traditional houses set to be demolished to make way for new homesKevin Frayer/Getty Images
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A billboard showing plans for the redevelopment of Kashgar is seen in an area where traditional homes have been demolished by local authoritiesKevin Frayer/Getty Images

Officials told Muslims to eschew religious customs during the fasting month of Ramadan, which rights groups saw as a bid to repress Uighurs.

China punishes the study of Islam outside the confines of tightly controlled state mosques. As part of a crackdown on extremism, Xinjiang has offered rewards for tips on anyone offering independent study of the Koran. Students, officials and members of the officially atheist Communist Party are barred from mosques.

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Uighur women laugh as they take care of their children at home before the Eid holiday in Old KashgarKevin Frayer/Getty Images
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A Uighur family pray before lunch on the Eid holidayKevin Frayer/Getty Images
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A halal butcher and his son wait for customers before the Eid holidayKevin Frayer/Getty Images
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A little girl wears a new red dress on Eid in KashgarKevin Frayer/Getty Images
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Uighur children play with balloons on the Eid holiday in an alleyway in Old KashgarKevin Frayer/Getty Images
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Children play in the street at night in Old KashgarKevin Frayer/Getty Images

The city of Karamay has banned people with long beards, head scarves, veils and clothing with the crescent moon and star from boarding buses.

Last month, authorities in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi banned bus passengers from carrying items ranging from cigarette lighters to yogurt and water, in a bid to prevent violent attacks.

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People wait at a bus stop in old KashgarKevin Frayer/Getty Images
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A Uighur man riding a scooter pulls his camel and horse along a road in KashgarKevin Frayer/Getty Images

The crescent moon and star symbol of Islam features on many national flags, besides being used by groups China says want to set up the independent state.

While many Uighur women dress in much the same casual style as those elsewhere in China, some have begun to wear the full veil, a garment more common in Pakistan or Afghanistan than in Xinjiang.

Hundreds have died in unrest in Xinjiang in the past 18 months, but tight security makes it almost impossible for journalists to make independent assessments of the violence.

Kevin Frayer's photographs show the daily lives of people in this area strategically located on the borders of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

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A Uighur couple are showered with confetti as they have the first dance at their wedding celebrationKevin Frayer/Getty Images
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A bride talks with a friend at her weddingKevin Frayer/Getty Images
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A woman fans the mother of the groom after she was overcome at her son's wedding celebrationKevin Frayer/Getty Images
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A groom is carried on the shoulders of a friend as he dances with others at his wedding celebrationKevin Frayer/Getty Images