Sunday, June 30, 2013

Chinese crack down on Muslim violence in western Uighur region

BEIJING (LAT) -- Dozens of armored vehicles and military trucks entered the capital of the western Chinese region of Xinjiang on Saturday as President Xi Jinping ordered tighter security following at least two outbreaks of violence.

The show of force came amid rising tensions between minority Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese authorities as the region prepares to mark the fourth anniversary of ethnic clashes that left nearly 200 people dead in Urumqi in July 2009.

Photos from Urumqion in the microblog service Weibo showed white armored vehicles and open-topped trucks filled with troops and police in riot gear. An AFP reporter on the scene said the action shut down large sections of the city’s center, with hundreds of armed troops massing in People’s Square.

On Friday, state-run media said, more than 100 knife-wielding people riding motorbikes attacked a police station in the city of Hotan. The number of casualties was unclear Saturday.

Official media reported no injuries or deaths but Radio Free Asia said two people may have been slain by police officers who became unnerved when Uighurs began shouting religious slogans after leaving a mosque.

Friday’s violence followed a bloody clash Wednesday in the town of Lukqun in which at least 35 people died. It was the deadliest incident since the riots in 2009.