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Police, rioters clash in western China; four dead

July 18, 2011|By David Pierson | Los Angeles Times

Reporting from Beijing — At least four people were killed after police and rioters clashed in China's restive Xinjiang province Monday, the official New China News Agency said.

Authorities in the western frontier city of Hotan opened fire on a mob after it attacked a police station, set it on fire and took hostages, the report said.

One police official, a security guard and two hostages were killed in the incident, the report said.

Dilxat Raxit of the World Uyghur Congress told Reuters that police opened fire on peaceful demonstrators, which sparked the fighting.

"The people cannot stand the government's repression any longer," he told the news agency.

Simmering tension between the Han, China's dominant ethnic group, and Xinjiang's native Uighur minority, a Muslim, Turkic-speaking people, has led to violent clashes in the past.

Nearly 200 people were killed in riots between the two groups in 2009.

Since then, authorities have blanketed the region with security and periodically arrested residents suspected of advocating a separatist movement in Xinjiang.

Amnesty International has condemned Chinese police, accusing them of using torture in detention, mass arrests and secretly detaining residents to pacify the Uighur community.

david.pierson@latimes.com

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