Urumqi blast
Policemen from the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team practice during a drill in Urumqi, Xinjiang Autonomous Region, April 7, 2014. Reuters

Eighty-one people have been found guilty of terrorism-related charges in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang with nine being sentenced to death, according to Chinese state television.

The suspects were sentenced at six different courts and the charges included murder, arson and participating in a terrorist organisation.

In the Xinjiang city of Urumqi, 29 "terror suspects" were detained on charges of inciting separatism and ethnic hatred.

The region has been beset by a number of violent attacks blamed on separatist Uighur Muslim groups.

The most notable attacks have been a car ploughing into pedestrians in Tiananmen Square October last year which killed five people and a knife attack in April by a group of masked men killing 29 at Kunming train station.

In April, Chinese president Xi Jinping put the restive western region at the front line of Beijing's counter-terrorism efforts.

"The situation is grim and complicated. The local-level police stations are fists and daggers," Xi told police.

"You must have the most effective means to deal with violent terrorists. Sweat more in peacetime to bleed less in wartime," he continued.

Uighurs resent Chinese control and changes to their traditional way of life. Many are urging the creation of an independent state called East Turkestan.

Uighurs speak Turkic and follow a moderate form of Islam but some have adopted more radical strands of Islam found in Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.