China says Muslim 'training' centers will slowly disappear

China says heavily guarded internment camps for Muslims which it calls vocational training centers will "gradually disappear" if there comes a day that "society does not need" them.

The camps in the far-west Xinjiang region have elicited an international outcry, with former inmates describing harsh conditions where Muslim minorities are subject to political indoctrination and psychological torture.

Human rights groups, researchers and the U.S. government estimate that around 1 million people from the predominantly Muslim Uighur and Kazakh ethnic groups are held in the vast network of compounds.

Xinjiang Gov. Shohrat Zakir declined at a news conference Tuesday to disclose the number of what he called "trainees." However, he said the figure is far less than 1 million.

Zakir said religious activities are banned in the camps.