Security, high tensions across Xinjiang | The Daily Star
11:00 PM, July 07, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 11:00 PM, July 07, 2009

Security, high tensions across Xinjiang


A large group of Han Chinese walk up a street carrying sticks and shovels in Urumqi in China's far west Xinjiang province yesterday while ethnic Uighur Muslim women are beaten up by Chinese riot police as they stage peaceful protest.Photo: AFP

Residents in major cities across China's vast Xinjiang region reported a spike in security Tuesday and businesses closed over fears deadly unrest that erupted in the capital could spread.
The worst reported ethnic violence in China for decades saw thousands of Muslim Uighurs, who have long harboured resentment under Chinese rule, take to the streets of Xinjiang's capital on Sunday in riots that led to 156 deaths.
Members of China's ethnic Han majority who were targeted in Sunday's riots then took to the streets of Urumqi on Tuesday armed with makeshift weapons vowing revenge against the Uighurs.
In the first hint that the violence could spread, police said they dispersed "more than 200 rioters" on Monday in Kashgar, another city in Xinjiang about 1,050 kilometres (650 miles) southwest of Urumqi.
In Kashgar, where two Uighurs killed 17 policeman in an attack using a truck and machetes last August, residents reported an increase in security, particularly near the Id Kah mosque where Monday's protest took place.
"Some shops are closed today, there are lots of policemen, very little passers-by, we have no clients and there are no buses in the streets," said a shop employee near the mosque, who refused to give his name.
A shop owner in Yining, a city 500 kilometres (310 miles) west of Urumqi in Xinjiang that was the scene of deadly ethnic riots in 1997, said there was virtually no activity amid a heavily increased security presence.
"From yesterday (Monday), most shops and entertainment venues have closed down and in populated areas there are not even any vegetable sellers," the man, who would only give his surname as Chen, told AFP by phone.
"Outside, there are many armed police, way more than before. TV and Internet have both been cut, there's nothing to do here, so I'm preparing to go home to the suburbs, although I don't know if I'll be able to get out."
Another resident in Yining said people were not allowed to enter the city.

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