China on Friday dismissed as “groundless allegations” reports that authorities were seizing copies of the Quran from Muslim families in Xinjiang province, PTI reported.

The north-western Xinjiang region is home to more than 10 million members of the Uyghur Muslim minority group.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said the situation in Xinjiang was sound, and local residents were working and living in peace. “We hope relevant parties refrain from making groundless allegations and rumours,” he was quoted as saying.

Radio Free Asia reported on Wednesday that officials across Xinjiang were warning families and mosques that ethnic minority Uyghur, Kazakh and Kyrgyz Muslims would face harsh punishment if they did not hand in prayer mats and copies of the Quran.

The World Uyghur Congress group told the news website that the police were making such announcements through social media platform WeChat.

“We received a notification saying that every single ethnic Uyghur must hand in any Islam-related items from their own home, including Qurans, prayers and anything else bearing the symbols of religion,” a spokesperson was quoted as saying.