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5 dead in unrest in China's Xinjiang region

September 05, 2009|Reuters

URUMQI, CHINA — Five people died in three days of unrest this week in Urumqi, Deputy Mayor Zhang Hong said Friday.

Han Chinese massed in the city -- the capital of China's northwestern-most province, Xinjiang -- to protest what they considered authorities' inaction on hundreds of reported stabbings with hypodermic needles as well as on trials of ethnic Uighurs charged in July rioting that killed about 200, mostly Han.

Police with tear gas broke up the protests, and troops blocked protesters' access to Uighur neighborhoods.

The Han are China's ethnic majority; the Uighurs are Turkic-speaking Muslims concentrated in Xinjiang who perceive the Han as colonizers.

Beijing, losing support among the Han, sent Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu to Urumqi.

He urged officials to "restore social order as soon as possible."

The ethnic riots in early July began after police broke up Uighurs' demonstrations against a fatal June attack by Han on Uighur co-workers at a southern China factory.

In this week's fatalities, the deputy mayor did not specify the victims' ethnicity or how they died.

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