May 7 (UPI) -- More than 24 Islamic religious sites or places of worship have been destroyed since 2016, according to a recent press report.
The Guardian reported unique sites like the Imam Asim shrine in western China, where the remains of an eighth-century holy warrior are believed to be buried, has been torn down, and is one of the more than 24 sites the paper found in collaboration with open-source journalism site Bellingcat.
Nick Waters, an analyst with Bellingcat, surveyed 100 mosques and shrines and noted 31 out of 91 sites analyzed were found to have "suffered significant structural damage between 2016 and 2018," according to The Guardian.
Of the damaged sites, 15 mosques appear to have been completely destroyed, the report says.
The findings are being reported at a time when China has launched a state campaign of mass monitoring and policing of Uighurs, a Turkic minority of Central Asian background.
Rian Thum, a historian at the University of Nottingham in Britain, said the findings are devastating.
"The images of Imam Asim in ruins are quite shocking. For the more devoted pilgrims, they would be heartbreaking," Thum said, according to The Guardian.
The surveillance and mass detention of Uighurs have stirred controversy internationally, and China recently invited foreign journalists to a detention facility.
NPR reported Tuesday detainees available for interviews and still in custody blamed themselves for "extremist thoughts."
The people in custody also performed the children's song "If You're Happy and You Know It, Clap Your Hands," before reporters, according to the report.
Those who have been released have said the "concentration camps" are where they are brainwashed with Communist Party doctrine. Some said they have been tortured.
Other Uighurs, including a principal of the Kashgar Vocational Education and Training Center, said "students" are treated well and able to return home on weekends.