Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Wednesday, 9 December 2009

New arrests over China's Xinjiang ethnic riots

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

Ninety-four people have been arrested on suspicion of involvement in ethnic violence in China's Xinjiang region earlier this year, officials say.

Those detained are said to have fled following last July's unrest, between ethnic Uighurs and members of China's Han majority.

Nearly 200 people were killed and another 1,700 injured.

The fugitives were detained as part of a large scale crackdown by the authorities on crime in Xinjiang.

The operation follows last week's sentencing of a further eight people to the death penalty.

Nine people were executed in November in connection with the ethnic unrest.

The Xinhua news agency quoted Xinjiang police as saying the crackdown was aimed at "consolidating stability and eliminating security risks." It gave no information on the ethnicity of those arrested.

Growing tension

Violence erupted in the streets of the Xinjiang capital Urumqi on 5 July, when a crowd of Uighurs - a Muslim minority which has long complained of repression under Chinese rule - attacked members of China's Han ethnic majority.

Most of those killed were Han, according to officials, and Urumqi's Han population demanded swift justice.

Tensions between the Uighurs and Han have been growing in recent years.

Millions of Han have moved to the region in recent decades, and while the majority of residents used to be Muslim Uighurs, Han now outnumber them in some areas, including Urumqi.

Many Uighurs want more autonomy and rights for their culture and religion - Islam - than is allowed by Beijing's strict rule.

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