A clash between knife-wielding attackers and police in China's volatile Xinjiang region left 16 people dead, including two police officers.
The officers were pursuing a terrorist suspect when they were attacked with knives, state media reported.
A spokesperson for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said "within the law."
Hua Chunying said assailants "used explosive devices to attack police officers" and attacked them with knives.
The incident is the latest in the string of deadly clashes between the Muslim Uighur population and the state in China's western Xinjiang region.
Sweden-based Uighur activist Dilxat Raxit said the incident was the latest example of how Chinese security forces are "increasingly opting to kill suspects at the scene rather than capturing them and putting them on trial."
More top news
Temperatures will remain higher than what is usually expected in the day for December ahead of rain moving in from the west tonight.
Senior NHS emergency medical consultant admits there is "absolutely a winter crisis."
Winner of The X Factor 2014 Ben Haenow is on course for the Christmas No. 1 after increasing the gap over his nearest rival, Mark Ronson.