URUMQI, July 18 (Xinhua) -- Nearly two weeks after the July 5 riot in Urumqi of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, social order and people's lives are returning to normal. Yet in retrospect, a mass of evidences show that the unrest was a well-planned violent criminal incident of terrorist nature.
Investigations by reporters reveal a salient feature of the riot, that is the perpetrators adopted the tactic of mass rally and making trouble in the open, which attracted people's attention and police force, while committing beating, smashing, robbery and arsons in other places.
At about 6:00 p.m. July 5, some persons gathered in the People's Square, continuously making phone calls and sending text messages. Some people were shouting slogans to attract passersby. The crowd grew larger and larger.
According to the local police department, about 1,500 policemen were sent to the place to maintain order and disperse the crowd.
At about 8:00 p.m., the police were told that a group of thugs were beating innocent people, smashing cars and buses, and burning police cars at Er Dao Qiao in a southern area of the city.
Xinhua reporters at the area spotted the body of a victim under a bridge, people fleeing in all directions, shops closing, mobsters smashing and setting fire as they walked along, more and more shops, automobiles and public facilities got destroyed and people got hurt.
At the same time, people gathered in the People's Square began to walk to the south.
According to two officials from the local committee of ethnics and religions who walked after these people, at the Longquan Street intersection, someone jumped out of the crowd and began to instigate people to join and follow them. The Longquan Street is a major passage leading to the Er Dao Qiao area.
At about 8:40 p.m., the crowd reached the Tianchi Road - close to the Er Dao Qiao area -- and were joined by about 200 people with clubs.
The two officials said that as fewer than 20 policemen lined up across the street to stop the crowd, someone in the crowd commanded the crowd to dash through the police line. A policeman was beat down and the crowd continued to move south with more violent behaviors.
According to the policemen who were at the scene, the crowd walked as long as several kilometers and more people joined in when the violent situation was worsening.
According to the local public security department, at about 9:00 p.m., the department received reports that thugs were making violence in more than 50 places in the city, attacking passersby, cars, shops, resident buildings, police and government offices.
The city's first aid center said they received numerous SOS calls starting from 8:23 p.m., resulting in the breakdown of the telephone switching system.
According to the center, from the night of July 5 to the next morning, it sent out ambulances for 737 times to give medical support to about 900 injured people.
A young woman told Xinhua that she was in a bus when the thugs started the violence. "There were also thugs in the bus. It was like they colluded over the whole thing and just waited in the bus for the time to come."
The girl said that she was beat "powerfully" in the head while trying to get off the bus after the driver opened the door. She was later sent to hospital for treatment.
"If there were no plan or organizing in advance, how could so many people appear in more than 50 places at the same time with the same violent behaviors?" an expert on public security told Xinhua.
According to the security department, these misdoers were mostly from outside Urumqi, and several leaders among them wore similar clothes.
The weapons used during the riot were mostly stones, bricks, wood and iron clubs, as well as some knives and guns. Some businessmen in the city told reporters that knives became hot selling products two or three days before the unrest.
The department said that two tickets were found in a captured suspect. One was a used ticket from south Xinjiang to Urumqi on July 4, the other was a return ticket on July 6.
Information revealed by a principal from a company at the Tianchi Road showed that, at about 8:40 p.m., a woman in a black robe ran to a man with about 30 thugs following. The man gave her several clubs and she gave out the clubs to the followers.
The principal said the stones and bricks used by these people were not from the Tianchi Road as the bricks on the road were not damaged. "There were also some stones which looked like to be from some building sites. It was like they had prepared them beforehand."
According to witnesses, the misdoers' wood clubs were actually used to support the small trees along the Tianchi road. Each one of them was about 1.2 meters long, with a diameter of 5 to 10 cm.
Local residents told reporters that about 60 small trees were planted along the road just in June. They thought the thugs chose here because of the "ready-made" weapons. Also, the residents said there were many alleys and lanes along the road, making it hard to chase the thugs.
Witnesses from other places also claimed that the stones used during the riot were never seen in the city.
Businessmen from the area of the city's woman-children health care center told reporters that they saw people dropped stones from upstairs on passersby and cars along the road. "The stones must be carried upstairs beforehand... How come there were so many stones in the buildings?" One of them said.
Many witnesses' accounts coincide with the records of monitor cameras in which young women repeatedly appeared in black, white or brown robes and black hoods and young men in blue T-shirts.
In interviews, reporters found the main attacking method during the unrest was to hit people in the head with wood clubs and stones.
According to several local hospitals which received injured people during the riot, most of the patients had serious head injuries, and those who died were also due to head injuries.
Photos from the local police also showed that many victims were lying beside scattered stones and bricks -- some were as large as a watermelon.
Transportation facilities were also one of the main targets.
Sources with the Urumqi Bus Group told Xinhua that a total of 28 buses were burned and 266 got smashed. The damaged vehicles accounted for one tenth of the company's total.
A worker from a bus station which was attacked recalled that some misdoers had set up road-blocks in several main streets and they were "very good at driving" and familiar with the structure of vehicles.
Sources with the Urumqi Bus Group said at about 9:30 p.m., a group of thugs rushed into the company's yard and took out the electrical wires from the circuit board and started the vehicles. They drove the vehicles to crash the telegraph pole to which a monitor camera was attached.
Witnesses also said that many burned gas-fired vehicles were first ignited from the rear end of the buses where the gas tank was located.
Many company workers were shocked that the misdoers knew so much about their vehicles and said some of the knowledge could only be acquired through professional trainings.
They recalled that in the last two years, some young men were practicing to drive vehicles every night in the area around the bus station. Many workers on night shift heard the noises of engines and screeching sound.
During the riot, one policeman was killed and tens were injuredwhen they tried to prevent mobsters from storming into government offices.
The buildings of the Xinjiang regional committee of the Communist Party of China, public security department, fire department and media organizations were all attacked, indicating that the July 5 riot was not a simple violent incident, according to the local public security department.
At about 6:00 p.m., reporters saw a crowd gathered in front of the gate of the party committee and tried to dash to the yard. The police stopped them.
At about 8:00 p.m., over one hundred thugs attacked a police station at the Longquan Road. Sources with the station said that the crowd kept confronting the police for some 20 minutes and finally scattered when the policemen took out their guns.
At 11:20 p.m. about forty to fifty misdoers attacked the Xinjiang People's Broadcasting Station and the Xinjiang Television Station. An official with the Xinjiang Radio & Television Bureau said the attackers left after policemen shoot guns into the air.
Analysts said that mob usually wouldn't attack organizations such as party committee, public security department and media if they were not organized or instigated.
Analysts said their conspiracy was far beyond an ordinary violent matter.