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China - Xinjiang violence

Exiled Uighur leader claims police killed 400 in Urumqi

Article published on the 2009-07-08 Latest update 2009-07-08 10:59 TU

Chinese soldiers running down a main street in Urumqi on 8 July 2009(Photo: Reuters)

Chinese soldiers running down a main street in Urumqi on 8 July 2009
(Photo: Reuters)

Exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer wrote in the Asian press on Wednesday that 400 Uighurs had been killed by the Chinese police in clashes which started on Sunday. Kadeer cited sources in “East Turkestan”. Meanwhile, Chinese President Hu Jintao cut short his time at the G8 summit in Italy on Wednesday to deal with the problems back home.

According to Kadeer’s piece in the Asian Wall Street Journal, 400 Uighurs died “as a result of police shootings and beatings” in Urumqi since Sunday. Authorities say that 156 were killed as a result of violence in the city and that most of them were ethnic Han or Hui Chinese.

News agencies in Urumqi report further violence overnight, although the thousands of troops in the city seem to have stopped any more major escalations. A curfew was imposed on Tuesday night and security personnel were out in force Wednesday.

Fighting broke out between Han and Hui Chinese and Muslim Uighurs following a protest on Sunday against a previous incident between the groups, which left two Uighurs dead after a fight at a toy factory in southern China.

There were also some unconfirmed reports that another 100 Uighurs had been killed in Kashgar, another large city in the region.

Kadeer said the protest was originally peaceful and she condemns both the action of any violent Uighurs and response of the authorities.

China has blamed Kadeer for prompting the violence and authorities have already arrested 1,434 suspects.

Kadeer was previously a wealthy businesswoman earning millions through her entrepreneurial ventures. But her political activism landed her in prison after she was convicted by the authorities in 2000 for endangering state security.

The Chinese authorities have tightened their control over the internet in the region to stop the unrest from spreading. France has said there is likely to be a European response.

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