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Page last updated at 16:30 GMT, Tuesday, 4 August 2009 17:30 UK

China 'to charge 83 over riots'

Burned out bus in Urumqi, China 6/7/09
The riots in July were the worst ethnic unrest in decades

Chinese police say they will charge 83 people in connection with ethnic riots in Xinjiang last month that left almost 200 dead, state media report.

The group face charges including murder and arson, Xinhua said, adding that no dates had been set for the trials.

Xinhua also said 718 people had been detained, in what is the first official tally from the police in Urumqi city.

Police previously confirmed the arrests of more than 1,500 people, but it is unclear how many were later released.

"Those arrested will face charges of murder, intentional injury, arson and robbery," the report cited Urumqi's chief prosecutor, Utiku'er Abudrehman, as saying.

We want an independent investigation to establish the correct number [of detentions]
Dilxat Raxit
World Uighur Congress

It marks the first step in prosecuting those implicated in the violence that saw fighting erupt between Muslim Uighurs and members of China's dominant Han ethnic group.

A spokesman for the World Uighur Congress dismissed the official figure of 718 detentions, saying hundreds more Uighurs were being held.

"The numbers they give are simply not credible," said Dilxat Raxit. "We want an independent investigation to establish the correct number."

The violence in Xinjiang was the worst ethnic unrest in China for decades.

It began on 5 July during a protest over a brawl in southern China in which two Uighurs were killed. The government says 197 people died in the ensuing violence, and more than 1,700 were injured.

The government says most of the dead were Han Chinese, but the World Uighur Congress claims many Uighurs also were killed.



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