Xinjiang death toll soars

Authorities raise the death toll from the ethnic breakdown to 184.

    The situation in Urumqi is still tense, with thousands of troops and police deployed throughout the city [AFP]

    Xinhua said the other dead person from the violence that erupted last weekend was from the Hui Muslim ethnic group which is culturally akin to Han Chinese.

    The riots kicked off on July 5 when demonstrations in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi by Uighurs protesting against an attack on Uighur workers in southern China turned deadly after police moved in. Shops and vehicles were burned.

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    The situation in Urumqi is still tense, with thousands of troops and police deployed throughout the city.

    Thousands of Chinese troops using armoured cars and helicopters have been patrolling the city in a sweeping crackdown aimed at preventing further clashes between the Uighur and Han Chinese communities.

    According to New-York based Human Rights Watch the government had deployed some 20,000 troops in Urumqi since the riots.

    A brief demonstration broke out on Friday, the main Muslim day of prayer, after some mosques were opened briefly.

    'Violent crime'

    Hu Jintao, the Chinese president, described the riots as a "serious violent crime elaborately planned and organised by 'three forces' at home and abroad", in reference to what China's government calls religious extremists, separatists and terrorists who they say menace Xinjiang.

    Speaking at a Communist party conference, he said that officials and ordinary people "should cherish the great atmosphere of all the minorities working, preparing and developing together".

    In depth


     
    Q&A: China's restive Uighurs
     Xinjiang: China's 'other Tibet'
     Silk Road city 'under threat'
     Muslim states 'silent' on Uighurs
     Uighurs blame 'ethnic hatred'

    Videos:
     
    China's 'Go West' policy
     Fear on Urumqi's streets
     Xinjiang under martial law
     China's changing approach to reporting Xinjiang
     Uighur leader speaks out
     Exiled Uighur denies stirring unrest
     Uighur culture under threat

    "We should bear this in mind that the Han people cannot be separated from minorities, and minorities cannot be separated from the Han people, and minorities are inseparable from each other either," Hu was quoted as saying in the local media.

    Xinjiang has long been a hotbed of ethnic tension, fostered by a growing economic gap between Uighurs and the Han Chinese, government curbs on religion and culture, as well as a massive influx of Han migrants who are now the majority in Urumqi.

    On Tuesday, thousands of Han Chinese, vowing vengeance, attacked Uighur neighbourhoods, with many residents saying that people were killed.

    Xinhua did not specify if any of the dead were killed in Tuesday's clashes.

    Activists say the clashes started when armed police moved in to break up a peaceful demonstration called after two Uighur workers at a toy factory in southern China were killed in a clash with Han Chinese staff late last month.

    Xinjiang, a vast desert territory that borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, has abundant oil reserves and is the country's largest natural gas-producing region.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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