Page last updated at 09:57 GMT, Friday, 10 July 2009 10:57 UK

Timeline: Xinjiang unrest

Riot police in Urumqi, 07/07
Officials say 20,000 security officers have been sent to Xinjiang

Ethnic violence has erupted in China's western region of Xinjiang, with scores of people being killed and hundreds injured.

Here are some of the most recent developments:


Mosques in Urumqi are ordered by the Chinese authorities to stay closed on Friday, the main day of prayer for Muslims.

Public notices are placed on the gates of mosques telling Uighur Muslims to mark Friday prayers at home, citing public safety as the reason for the move.

However, some appeared to defy the ban. At least two mosques opened their gates after crowds gathered outside demanding to be let in.

Tens of thousands of both Han Chinese and Uighurs are reportedly trying to flee the city, following the violence.


Thousands of troops are on the streets of Urumqi and correspondents say there are few signs of the vigilante groups that had been roaming the city.

Armed police guard Urumqi's main bazaar - 9/7/2009
Urumqi's main bazaar remained closed and under guard on Thursday

Government offices in the city re-open after an officially declared three-day holiday.

Buses are running and some shops are open, but the city remains tense, correspondents say. The central bazaar in the main Uighur district remains closed.

China says it has "a great deal of evidence" that some of those involved in the violence had "training from foreign terrorist groups including al-Qaeda".

The authorities again say they have evidence - in the form of intercepted internet, telephone and mobile phone messages - that the World Uighur Congress and its leader Rebiya Kadeer are responsible for the unrest, Xinhua news agency reports. Ms Kadeer has denied the allegations.


As more troops are deployed to Urumqi, Chinese President Hu Jintao cuts short a visit to Italy, where he was due to attend a summit of world leaders, to deal with the crisis.

A BBC correspondent says security forces in full body armour and with semi-automatic weapons have drawn a line between the Han and Uighur communities, although areas have not been fully sealed off and people can still move about.

Urumqi's Mayor Jerla Isamudin declares the situation to be "under control" but there are some reports of ethnic attacks.

A crowd of about 1,000 Han Chinese faces off with security forces, with some angry that police were arresting young Han men, Reuters news agency reports.

The Communist party chief of Urumqi, Li Zhi, promises the death penalty for those found guilty of committing murder during the riots.


Overnight officials again announce a higher death toll from Sunday's violence, with 156 people now confirmed to have died and more than 1,000 injured.

Ethnic Han protesters, 07/07
Han Chinese protesters came out in force to try to take revenge

They also announce that 1,434 suspects have been detained in police operations since the violence began.

A group of overseas journalists on a supervised tour of the city then becomes the focus of a renewed protest - this time from a 200-strong group of Uighur women demanding that their men-folk be released.

In a public-relations disaster for the Chinese government, riot police move in to stop the protest in front of the watching photographers and journalists.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville, who witnesses the protest, describes it as an extraordinary act of defiance in front of officers armed with rifles and tear gas.

Uighur woman protesting, 07/07
Images of the women's protest were soon beamed across the world

Later, though, groups of Han Chinese armed with homemade weapons take to the streets - hundreds according to some reports, thousands according to others.

They seem bent on revenge for what they consider to be attacks on them by the Uighurs, and smash shops and stalls before confronting groups of Uighurs.

Riot police step in and quell the unrest, and officials announce a curfew that will run from 2100 until 0800.


Officials revise their figures of the number of dead, saying 140 people were killed in Sunday's violence.

Residents of Urumqi describe the city as in "lock-down" as Chinese security forces arrive to ensure there can be no further unrest.

Rebiya Kadeer, 06/07
Officials blame Rebiya Kadeer for the violence - a claim she denies

Officials begin to enforce a communications blackout, with internet users complaining of no connection.

One mobile-phone operator, China Mobile, tells the Associated Press it has suspended its services in the region "to help keep the peace and prevent the incident from spreading further".

Meanwhile, officials apportion blame firmly on the shoulders of exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer.

"Rebiya had phone conversations with people in China on 5 July in order to incite," Xinjiang Governor Nur Bekri said in a televised address.

In the afternoon, regional police officials speak of hundreds of people being arrested and dozens more "key suspects" being hunted.

And the unrest appears briefly to be spreading, with reports of protests in Kashgar.

But later reports suggest a small rally of about 200 Uighurs outside a Kashgar mosque is quickly dispersed by police, with no reports of casualties or fighting.

When asked about the violence, UN chief Ban Ki-moon urges governments to respect their people's right to protest.

"All the differences of opinion, whether domestic or international, must be resolved peacefully through dialogue," he says.

Burnt-out cars in Urumqi, 06/07
The extent of destruction became clear on Monday

News of the violence enrages overseas Uighurs - groups of whom attack a Chinese embassy in the Netherlands with stones and burn a Chinese flag.

Xinhua reports say most of the dead and injured are Han Chinese, and officials insist the violence was premeditated, arranged through web forums.

The authorities feel sufficiently confident that they allow a group of foreign journalists into Urumqi for a supervised tour of the area where the violence took place.


A small number of Uighurs - Muslim inhabitants of Xinjiang region - gather in the provincial capital, Urumqi, to protest.

Anger has been seeping through the Uighur community for weeks, following a brawl between Uighurs and ethnic Han Chinese in June, in Guangdong province 2,000 miles away (3,200km).

Grab of protests from CCTV, 05/07
Chinese state TV broadcast pictures of the unrest

The Uighurs say they were demanding justice for their compatriots - two of whom died in the brawl.

"We are mourning our compatriots who were beaten to death in Guangdong," one protester tells the Associated Press.

But the small protest quickly spreads across the city - where Han Chinese account for three-quarters of the population.

The state-run news agency, Xinhua, says rioters are "attacking passers-by and setting fire to vehicles", adding that police have been sent to quell the disturbances.

But witnesses are soon describing hundreds - possibly thousands - of Uighurs rampaging through Urumqi, attacking Han Chinese, setting light to cars and smashing up shops.

In the late evening in China, the first reports of deaths emerge with Xinhua saying "three ordinary people of the Han ethnic group" were killed.

Uighur groups say hundreds of police began opening fire indiscriminately on protesters, and claim the death toll is much higher than reported.

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