Mon, July 06, 2009
China > Mainland

Civilians and armed police officer killed in NW China violence

2009-07-05 21:41:00 GMT2009-07-06 05:41:00 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

URUMQI, July 6 (Xinhua) -- The violence in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, has led to the death of "a number of civilians and one armed police officer" on Sunday, sources with the regional government said early Monday.

Some ordinary people and armed police officers were also injured, while many motor vehicles and shops were smashed and burned, the sources said.

The situation is under control now, it added.

Previous government report said that three ordinary people of the Han ethnic group were killed in the incident as of 11 p.m. Sunday, in addition to 20 others injured.

"They took to the street, not peacefully, carrying knives, wooden batons, brick and stone," said Wang Yaming, who was hacked down by several outlaws, but then saved by a group of Uygur citizens.

A taxi driver, whose surname was Zhao, told Xinhua that he was assaulted by some 20 young people with batons in hands rushing out of a lane. "They hit me badly and took my mobile phone and money away, then they smashed the window of my car," he said.

MASTERMIND BEHIND VIOLENCE

Initial investigation showed the violence was masterminded by the separatist World Uyghur Congress led by Rebiya Kadeer, according to the regional government.

Rebiya Kadeer, a former businesswoman in China, was detained in 1999 on charges of harming national security. She was released on bail on March 17, 2005 to seek medical treatment in the United States.

"The violence is a preempted, organized violent crime. It is instigated and directed from abroad, and carried out by outlaws in the country," a government statement said early Monday.

According to the government, the World Uyghur Congress has recently been instigating an unrest via the Internet among other means, calling on the outlaws "to be braver" and "to do something big."

Nur Bekri, chairman of the Xinjiang regional government, said in a televised speech Monday morning that "three forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism made use of a brawl between Uygur and Han ethnic workers in a toy factory in Guangdong Province on June 26, in which two Uygur workers died, to sabotage the country.

On Saturday evening, some people began to spread information on the Internet, calling for demonstration in the People's Square and South Gate in the Urumqi city. On Sunday, Rebiya called her accomplices in China for further instigation.

Outlaws came to the street at around 7 p.m. Sunday. They gathered, marched and demonstrated, which developed into violent acts of beating, smashing, looting and burning in some places, said the official.

Nur Bekri said the bodies of the two Uygur workers in the brawl have been sent back by plane to Xinjiang for burial. Police in Xinjiang and Guangdong are jointly investigating the brawl, so as to ensure justice.

The government of Shaoguan City, where the toy factory is located, and the factory are trying their best to make Uygur workers go back to work as soon as possible, he added.

The brawl was triggered by a sex assault by a Uygur worker toward a Han female worker, he said.

"We should bear in mind that stability is to the greatest interest of all people in China, including the 21 million-plus people from all ethnic groups in Xinjiang," he said.

Xinjiang, the far western autonomous region, is home to more than 10.96 million of ethnic minority people, including Uygur, Mongolian and Hui.

EFFORTS TO RESTORE ORDER

The Urumqi municipal government issued an urgent notice early Monday morning, announcing traffic control in certain areas to "maintain social order in the city and guarantee the execution of duty by state organs."

"From 1 a.m. to 8 a.m. on July 6, police impose traffic control in certain areas in the city of Urumqi. Passage in these areas is not allowed for any vehicle," the notice reads.

"All the units and individuals shall voluntarily help maintain social order as required by this notice. People who violate the notice will be detained and punished by police according to law. Those whose acts constitute a crime shall be subject to criminal liabilities according to law," says the notice.

So far the government has not disclosed how many people were involved in Sunday's violence.

Police have arrested some rioters, although the exact number of people arrested was still not available.

This year marks the region's 60th anniversary of peaceful liberation. But during the annual "two session" in March this year, Nur Bekri warned the security situation in the region would be "more severe".

"It's a time of celebration for Xinjiang people but hostile forces will not give up such an opportunity to sabotage," said the official.

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