Ethnic Riots In China's XiaJiang Province: 156 People Dead
[UPDATE -- July 6, 2009] It was reported today that yesterday's riots have lead to 156 people dead and hundreds more injured. About 800 people are believed to have been arrested.
Chinese state media says that 156 people have been killed in violent riots in the country’s western Xinjiang region.
The official Xinhua News Agency did not immediately give any other details in its one-sentence report early Tuesday. It had said earlier that at least 140 people were dead and that the number “was still climbing.” Another 828 people have been injured in the deadliest ethnic unrest to hit the region in decades.
Three civilians have died and many were injured during Sunday's riots in the town of Urumqi, the capital of the province of XinJiang in the northwest of China. An estimated 1000 people assembled in the capital to hold a peaceful protest on Sunday, but refused to disperse later, prompting police to use batons and tear gas to scatter the crowds. The three people killed in Sunday's riots are believed to be of Han ethnicity. However, more reports have surfaced that the number of dead is still unknown.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency said protesters attacked passersby, burned public buses and blocked traffic.
Local police arrived quickly and tried to control the swelling crowd by erecting barriers in the street, but “people pushed them over,” the witness said. “They were throwing rocks at passing cars and buses.” As the violence escalated, hundreds of anti-riot police arrived on the scene, the witness said.
“They used tear gas and fire hoses to disperse the crowd. I saw fire trucks, ambulances, armed personnel carriers, and what looked like tanks. I heard random gunshots.”
On June 25, a confrontation took place between Uyghur and Han Chinese workers at the Xuri Toy Factory in Shaoguan City in southern China. Two Uyghurs died in the incident, 118 people were injured. Today's riots were sparked by protesters demanding an unbiased investigation into the brawl. Allegations surfaced that a wave of crimes ensued at the factory after the arrival of Uyghur workers. The Turkic-speaking, Muslim ethnic minority of Uyghurs has long been advocating for their independence from China. The Chinese government says the riots in XinJiang is a plan against its rule. They say the violence was likely premeditated from abroad.