China says Uighurs killed in riot

Admission of fatal police shooting points to continued ethnic tensions in Xinjiang region.

     Tensions between Xinjiang's Uighur Muslims and Han Chinese exploded into violence on July 5 [AFP]

    "The police showed as much restraint as possible during the unrest,'' Bekri said.

    He said many police officers were injured and one was killed.

    Uighurs are a Turkic people who are largely Muslim and share linguistic and cultural bonds with Asia.

    A minority now in their ancient homeland of Xinijang, they claim persecution after an influx of Han Chinese into the region.

    Riot toll climbs

    Bekri also said that the death toll from the recent violence in the region had risen to 197.

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    The government had previously said the rioting killed 192 and injured 1,721 more.

    On July 5 a peaceful protest by local Uighur residents turned violent after it was stopped by police.

    Official reports said the Uighurs went on a rampage, smashing windows, burning cars and beating Han Chinese, the nation's dominant ethnic group, in the worst ethnic clashes to hit the region in decades.

    Two days after the first rioting, vigilante groups of ethnic Han apparently took to the streets and attacked Uighurs.

    Chinese authorities have now released a video said to be taken inside a mosque in Urumqi on July 13 - eight days after the worst clashes.

    They say it shows Uighur men leaving the mosque armed with machetes, then trying to attack police.

    Officers then shoot three of the men, killing two of them.

    Protest's genesis

    The initial protest was centred on calls for an investigation into the deaths of Uighur factory workers which occurred on June 25 during a fight with Han Chinese in the southern city of Shaoguan.

    State media reported that two people died, but photos spread on the internet soon after apparently showed at least a half-dozen bodies of Uighurs, with Han Chinese standing over them, arms raised in victory.

    Chinese authorities accused Rebiya Kadeer, a prominent US-based exiled Uighur activist, of inciting the unrest. They have not provided evidence, and Kadeer has denied it.

    About 1,000 people, mostly Uighurs, have been detained in the resulting government crackdown.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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