Page last updated at 21:54 GMT, Saturday, 18 July 2009 22:54 UK

China admits Uighur riot killings

A Uighur girl walks by Chinese security forces in Urumqi, July 16
Chinese forces are still out in force in Urumqi

A Chinese official says police shot dead 12 Uighur rioters in Urumqi this month, in a rare government admission of deaths inflicted by security forces.

Nuer Baikeli, governor of Xinjiang region and himself a Uighur, said those killed had ignored police warning shots and were attacking civilians and shops.

He said police had shown restraint and had no choice but to act.

Some 200 people - mostly Han Chinese - died in the clashes between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese in Urumqi.

"The rioters, the criminals, continued to act in an extremely vicious manner, insisted on having their way, and continued to threaten the lives of others," he told reporters.

"It was at this point that our public security forces and military police decisively fired. They shot dead 12 rioters. Of them, three died on site, and nine died as people tried to save them."

The violence in Xinjiang began on 5 July during a protest by Uighurs over a brawl in southern China in late June in which two people were killed.

Uighur groups in exile have said hundreds of Uighurs were killed.

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