Jamaica Gleaner
Published: Monday | July 6, 2009
Home : International
CHINA - Muslim minority riot erupts in China's west


Protesters from a Muslim ethnic group clashed with police in China's far west yesterday with activists saying police fired shots in the air and used batons to disperse a crowd that had swelled to nearly 1,000.

State media said at least three ethnic Han Chinese were killed, while an activist group said one demonstrator may have died.

Protesters, mostly from the Uighur ethnic group, set at least one car on fire, overturned police barriers and attacked buses in several hours of violence that appeared to subside somewhat as police and military presence intensified into the night, according to participants and witnesses.

Tensions between Uighurs and Chinese are never far from the surface in Xinjiang province, China's vast Central Asian buffer province.


Accounts differed over what happened yesterday in the city of Urumqi, but the violence seemed to have started when a crowd of protesters, who started out peaceful, refused to disperse.

Adam Grode, an American Fulbright scholar studying in Urumqi, said he heard explosions and also saw a few people being carried off on stretchers and a Han Chinese man with blood on his shirt entering a hospital.

He said he saw police pushing people back with tear gas, fire hoses and batons, and protesters knocking over police barriers and smashing bus windows.

"Every time the police showed some force, the people would jump the barriers and get back on the street. It was like a cat-and-mouse sort of game," said Grode, 26.

People started to disperse after two hours, he said, but hundreds of police and soldiers poured into the city in the night with two dozen police buses, trucks and other security vehicles and rounded up Uighurs who were sitting on the kerb.

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