Author: Associated Press
Ethnic clashes have paralyzed Urumqi over the past several days ? with
minority Uighur and Han Chinese mobs roaming the streets and attacking each
other. The violence forced President Hu Jintao to embarrassingly cut short a
trip to Italy where he was take part in a Group of Eight summit.
Communist Party chief Li Zhi told a televised news conference that many people
had been arrested, including students.
More than 1,100 people were wounded in the violence, and hundreds of vehicles
were damaged or set on fire in the riots on Sunday. It was not known how
many Uiqhurs and Han Chinese died or who was behind their deaths.
Li would not say how many of the 156 dead were Han ? the majority ethnicity in
China ? and how many were Uiqhurs ? a largely Muslim minority ? even though
more than 100 of them have been identified and handed over to their
He said both groups were responsible for the violence. “The small groups of
the violent people have already been caught by police. The situation is now
Earlier, helicopters dropped leaflets appealing for calm among Urumqi’s 2.3
million residents, although the official Xinhua News Agency said there were
“sporadic standoffs” between protesters and security forces, and some minor
clashes. It did not give details.
Hu arrived home Wednesday “due to the situation” in Xinjiang, the official
Xinhua News Agency said. It did not say what action he would take.
In some areas of Urumqi, residents formed alleyway barricades with furniture
and debris to stop a repeat of the fighting between Uighurs (pronounced
WEE-gers) and Han Chinese.
“The government told us today not to get involved in any kind of violence.
They’ve been broadcasting this on the radio, and they even drove through
neighborhoods with speakers telling people not to carry weapons,” said one
Han Chinese man who would give only his surname, Wang.
Hundreds of paramilitary police guarded the main roads to Uighur neighborhoods
and the central square in Urumqi (pronounced uh-ROOM-chee), where the first
riots began. Most were armed with shields and clubs, while a few had assault
rifles fixed with bayonets.
Uighurs say the riots that started Sunday ? put down by volleys of tear gas
and a massive show of force ? were triggered by the 25 June deaths of Uighur
factory workers during a brawl in the southern Chinese city of Shaoguan.
State-run media have said two workers died, but many Uighurs believe more
were killed and said the incident was an example of how little the
government cared about them.
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