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China unrest resumes; toll rises to 156
Urumqi (China), Jul 7 (Agencies):
Published on 7 Jul. 2009 11:53 PM IST
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Protesters armed with clubs and knives Tuesday marched through this riot-hit Chinese city as the death toll in the ethnic clashes rose to 156 and over 1,400 people were arrested for the violence, authorities said. The dead include 129 men and 27 women, Li Yi, head of the publicity department of Xinjiang regional committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said Tuesday morning. The police have arrested 1,434 suspects in connection with the riots that took place between minority Uighurs and members of Han community in China’s Xinjiang province Sunday. Li Yi said the suspects include 1,379 men and 55 women. “The police have started interrogations of the suspects,” said Li. On Tuesday, several thousand protesters marched along Youhao Street and Guangming Street toward Erdaoqiao Road in downtown Urumqi. The protesters, mostly Han Chinese, shouted: “Protecting our home, protect our family members”. Police armed with guns and shields were on guard at various points. Many of the protesters gathered at the Urumqi South Railway Station, Changjiang Road, Yangzijiang Road and some other places. People ran in panic and roadside shops were shut down. “We will not hide any more. We will fight back if they (the rioters) come,” said a man standing in front of a building in Shihezi. Crowds rushed to the municipal people’s hospital to take shelter. A man who was coughing up blood and another man whose head was covered in blood were rushed to the hospital for emergency treatment. The regional hospital of traditional Chinese medicine received about three Han Chinese with fresh wounds on their bodies in the afternoon, said the president of the hospital. On Sunday evening, riots broke out here following a protest rally by Uighurs. Besides 156 deaths, the rioting left over 1,000 injured. They were demonstrating against the death of two Uighur workers in a brawl in a toy factory in Guangdong province June 26. Over 20,000 armed police, special police, firefighters and troops have been sent to Urumqi to quell the unrest. The rioters smashed or set ablaze several vehicles, shops and public properties during the two days of violence, which the provincial government said was masterminded by the World Uighur Congress, a banned Muslim separatist group in the region. The outfit is led by Rebiya Kadeer, a former businesswoman, who was detained in 1999 on charges of harming national security. She was released on bail in March 2005 to seek medical treatment in the US. “The violence is a pre-empted and organised crime. It is instigated and directed from abroad, and carried out by outlaws in the country,” a government statement said early Monday. Following the growing unrest, Internet connectivity was cut in parts of Urumqi. “We cut Internet connection in some areas of Urumqi in order to prevent violence from spreading to other places,” said Li Zhi, the Communist Party of China (CPC) chief of Urumqi. Li said Chinese authorities had evidence that World Uighur Congress leader Rebiya Kadeer used the Internet and other means of communication to mastermind the riot. He didn’t say when connectivity would be resumed. Xinjiang police said Monday they had evidence that Kadeer masterminded Sunday’s riot.

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