Page last updated at 03:33 GMT, Tuesday, 7 July 2009 04:33 UK

Mass arrests over China violence


Beijing says ethnic Muslim Uighurs targeted Han Chinese

Chinese police have arrested 1,434 people over rioting in Xinjiang province, official state media say.

Rioting broke out on Sunday in Urumqi - the capital of Xinjiang - leaving 156 people dead and more than 800 injured.

Unrest has continued, with hundreds of Uighurs facing off against police in Urumqi on Tuesday, and protests around a mosque in Kashgar on Monday.

Beijing blames ethnic Muslim Uighurs for the violence, but exiled Uighurs say police fired on students.

Demonstrators said they had been demanding justice for two Uighurs killed last month in a fight with ethnic Han Chinese at a factory in southern China.

The bloodshed drew international concern, with the US calling for all sides to "exercise restraint".

The official Chinese news agency Xinhua reported on Monday that police believed agitators were "trying to organise more unrest" in other cities in Xinjiang, a mountainous and desert region that borders Central Asia.

About 200 people "trying to gather" at the Id Kah mosque in the centre of Kashgar, on the ancient Silk Road, were dispersed by police early on Monday evening, Xinhua said.

Police also revealed they had information about efforts to organise unrest in the city of Aksu and the Yili prefecture, Xinhua added. Yili is a border region that was hit by ethnic unrest in the late 1990s.

Calm in Urumqi

As relative calm returned to the bloodstained streets of Urumqi, paramilitary police patrolled the main bazaar - a largely Uighur neighbourhood - carrying batons, bamboo poles and slingshots.

Extremist forces inside and outside of China communicated with each other intensively before the incident erupted
Liu Weimin
Chinese embassy, London

Mobile phone services were said to be blocked and internet connections cut or slowed down.

Witnesses and state media said that rioters overturned barricades, attacked vehicles and houses, and clashed with police in Urumqi on Sunday.

State television showed footage of protesters beating and kicking people on the ground.

There were graphic images of people who appeared to be ethnic Han Chinese sitting dazed with blood pouring down their faces.

Wu Nong, news director for the Xinjiang government, said more than 260 vehicles were attacked and more than 200 shops and houses damaged.

Map locator
Uighurs are ethnically Turkic Muslims
They make up about 45% of the region's population. 40% are Han Chinese
China re-established control in 1949 after crushing short-lived state of East Turkestan
Since then, large-scale immigration of Han Chinese
Uighurs fear erosion of traditional culture
Sporadic violence since 1991
Attack on 4 Aug 2008 near Kashgar kills 16 Chinese policemen

A senior communist party official in Xinjiang confirmed on Tuesday that 129 men and 27 women were killed in the clashes in Urumqi. The figure is higher than had been reported on Monday.

The police say some bodies were recovered from street corners in the aftermath of the clashes. Others died in hospital.

Accounts differ over how the violence happened. The Xinjiang government blamed separatist Uighurs based abroad for orchestrating attacks on Han Chinese.

But Uighur groups insisted their protest was peaceful and had fallen victim to state violence, with police firing indiscriminately on protesters in Urumqi.

Liu Weimin, a spokesman at the Chinese Embassy in London, told the BBC's The World Tonight that extremist forces had been involved.

"The local government in Xinjiang has evidence that extremist forces inside and outside of China communicated with each other intensively before the incident erupted on Sunday," he said.

Rebiya Kadeer, exiled president of the Uighur American Association, denied claims that she had incited the riots.

She said she had learned about the protests from websites and only called her family in China to warn them to stay away from any trouble.

There has been widespread international concern at the clashes, which some analysts say are the most serious in China since Tiananmen Square in 1989.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon led the calls for restraint, a sentiment echoed by Britain and the US.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said: "We are deeply concerned over reports of many deaths and injuries from violence in Urumqi in western China. We call on all in Xinjiang to exercise restraint."

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