Xinjiang city 'faces arduous fight'

Mayor of riot-hit Chinese city says struggle against "separatists" last many years.

    China has stepped up security in Xinjiang following last year's deadly riots [Reuters]

    "We should stop all sabotage activities and attempts beforehand."

    His comments come as Chinese authorities continue to crack down on suspected separatists in Xinjiang, keeping a tight grip on communications and other rigid security measures.

    Ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang have long complained of repression from Beijing [EPA]
    A top regional official said on Thursday that the monitoring of migrants, former convicts and "suspicious people" will also be stepped up.

    Urumqi was the scene of the worst ethnic violence in China in decades, which pitted mainly Muslim Uighurs against China's Han ethnic majority, leaving nearly 200 dead and over 1,600 injured.

    During the initial eruption of violence last year, Uighurs attacked Han Chinese, but in subsequent days groups of Han roamed the streets seeking revenge.

    Uighurs say the violence was sparked when police cracked down on peaceful demonstrations in Urumqi that were held to protest the deaths of two Uighur migrant workers at a factory in southern China.

    Energy-rich Xinjiang is strategically located at the crossroads of Central Asia, and Beijing has shown it is determined to keep a tight grip on the region.

    'Vigilance' urged

    China has blamed overseas exile groups for instigating the protests.

    So far, courts in Urumqi have sentenced about two dozen people to death for involvement in the riots, including nine who have already been executed.

    In his report Isamudinhe added that the government would improve its emergency response capacity in the region by building up additional security at district and county levels.

    Earlier this week, the government announced a plan to recruit an additional 5,000 special police officers in Xinjiang "to help prevent unrest.''

    Recruits would be given a month of training and serve alongside special police sent from other parts of China.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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