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Order restored in Urumqi after carnage

[ 2009-07-07 11:43]     字号 [] [] []  
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Several hundred rioters were under arrest in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region yesterday after at least 140 people were killed and more than 800 others injured in riots that erupted in the capital on Sunday night, officials said yesterday.

Fifty-seven bodies were retrieved from the streets, while the other victims were confirmed dead in hospitals, Liu Yaohua, the regional police chief, told a press conference.

Liu said police were searching for about 90 key suspects in the city.

"Police have tightened security in downtown Urumqi and at key institutions such as power and natural gas facilities, as well as TV stations, to prevent large-scale riots."

Checkpoints have also been set up throughout the city as well as in neighboring Changji and Turpan prefectures, to prevent any suspected rioters from fleeing, Liu said. More than 100 officials from several ethnic groups in adjacent areas have been brought in to the regional capital to help interrogate suspects, he said.

An initial investigation found that the unrest was masterminded by the World Uygur Congress (WUR) and led by Rebiya Kadeer, regional authorities said.

Kadeer lives in the US.

"The unrest was a pre-emptive, organized, violent crime. It was instigated and directed from abroad, and carried out by outlaws in the country," a government statement said yesterday.

The WUR had recently started stirring unrest via the Internet, among other means, calling on people "to be braver" and "do something big", the authorities said.

Nur Bekri, chairman of the regional government, said in a televised speech that the riots followed a dispute between Uygur workers and local people in a toy factory in Guangdong province on June 26. Two Uygur workers were reportedly killed during the factory brawl, which occurred after rumors that Uygur workers sexually assaulted Han female workers.

More than 100 members of the Han and Uygur ethnic groups were injured during that incident, the media reported.

Nur said the brawl was used by overseas opposition forces to instigate Sunday's unrest and undermine the ethnic unity and social stability in the autonomous region, with an aim to split the country.

"We should bear in mind that stability is in the greatest interest of all people in China, including the people in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region," he said.

"Sunday night's attack was brutal and violent," Li Zhi, Party secretary of Urumqi, said Monday.

Kadeer told her contacts in Urumqi on July 4 that "something big" would happen there the next day and asked them to collect relevant information, Li said.

About 10 minutes of the footage of Sunday night's riots were shown at the press conference yesterday.

Rioters vandalized and burned 203 local stores and 14 residential houses, while 260 vehicles, including two police vehicles and 190 buses, were reportedly torched.

Chen Li, director of the information office in Kashgar, denied an earlier AP report about a riot in Kashgar yesterday.

People were not able to access the Internet in Urumqi since early yesterday morning.

Shopping centers and banks remained closed in the affected districts yesterday and the area was still under strict traffic control.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Order restored in Urumqi after carnage

Order restored in Urumqi after carnageBrendan joined The China Daily in 2007 as a language polisher in the Language Tips Department, where he writes a regular column for Chinese English Language learners, reads audio news for listeners and anchors the weekly video news in addition to assisting with on location stories. Elsewhere he writes Op’Ed pieces with a China focus that feature in the Daily’s Website opinion section.

He received his B.A. and Post Grad Dip from Curtin University in 1997 and his Masters in Community Development and Management from Charles Darwin University in 2003. He has taught in Japan, England, Australia and most recently China. His articles have featured in the Bangkok Post, The Taipei Times, The Asia News Network and in-flight magazines.