Beijing, July 6 (ANI): Over 100 people have been killed and 800 injured in riots that broke out Sunday in Xinjiang province in western China.
Initial reports said that just four people had been killed in running battles with police that left burned-out cars and buses and several smashed shop-fronts, but according to The Telegraph, the death toll is far higher.
Hundreds of arrests have been made, including 10 “key figures”. The authorities are on the lookout for 90 others responsible for “fanning” the protests.
The authorities said all traffic was cleared from the streets on Monday morning to retain order. Another witness said the city of 2.3 million which is 2,000 miles west Beijing residents was now effectively “on lockdown”.
The disturbances come after a year of rising tensions between the dominant Han Chinese authorities and the Uighur ethnic minority – the historical ethnic majority in Xinjiang – who say they have been socially and economically marginalised by Beijing’s development policies.
Officials said the riot began when Chinese police tried to break up a sit-in protest calling for an investigation into the deaths of two Uighurs during a fight between Uighur and Han workers at a toy factory in Guangdong province, Southern China last month.
The riot has echoes of clashes last March in the neighbouring province of Tibet where there are similar simmering ethnic tensions between the historic Buddhist population and Han Chinese who have migrated to the region in recent decades.
Uighur groups however say they have been systematically edged out of society by the influx of Han Chinese that have moved into the region to exploit Xinjiang’s oil, natural gas and agricultural resources as part of Beijing’s “develop the West” policy.
Last year on the eve of the Beijing Olympics Uighur separatist groups attacked a Chinese police post killing 17 police, according to figures released by state media. Two men were executed for the attacks in the Silk Road city of Kashgar last April.
Beijing said that Uighur separatist groups were running terrorist cells in Xinjiang which have received training from Islamist militant groups in neighbouring Pakistan.
The Uighur issue returned to top of US-China relations last month after Washington refused to send four Uighur men released from the Guantanamo Bay prison camp back to China. (ANI)