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At least 200 stage fresh protest in China's Urumqi

At least 200 people staged a fresh protest in China's Urumqi city in front of foreign reporters on Tuesday to demand the release of detained relatives, two days after deadly riots in Urumqi.

world Updated: Jul 07, 2009 11:37 IST

At least 200 people staged a fresh protest in China's Urumqi city in front of foreign reporters on Tuesday to demand the release of detained relatives, two days after deadly riots in Urumqi.

The protesters, all Muslim Uighurs, approached the reporters in the capital of Xinjiang with their fists in the air, tears rolling down their faces, and then engaged in a tense stand-off with police, an AFP reporter said.

"I'm here to demand my husband be returned," said one woman who gave her name as Maliya, as she held the hand of her crying seven-year-old son.

She said police burst into their house on Monday and took her husband away.

Maliya insisted her husband took no part in Sunday's unrest.

"We were at home when it happened," she said.

The protesters, mostly women and children, were emboldened by the presence of six busloads of foreign reporters on a government-sponsored trip to Urumqi after riots on Sunday left at least 156 people dead and over 1,000 injured.

"Film this," one protester said, while others made signs to mimic the action of taking a photo.

Hundreds of police armed with machine guns, shotguns and batons surrounded the protesters, who refused to move. The demonstration started about 11:00 am (0300 GMT) and lasted almost one hour.

Police eventually dispersed the protesters peacefully, and the reporters were put back on ther buses and taken back to their hotels.

The journalists had been taken to view a car dealership that was destroyed in Sunday's rioting and the protest occurred close to the ruined building.

The unrest on Sunday saw Muslim Uighurs, who have long complained about repression under Chinese rule, take to the streets.

Chinese authorities have accused exiled Uighur leaders of orchestrating the unrest, and state television has shown footage of Uighurs attacking people in the streets, turning over police cars and smashing shops.

But exiled Uighur leaders have said Chinese security forces over-reacted to the protests and fired indiscriminately.

Police announced early Tuesday they had arrested 1,434 suspects, including 55 women, for their involvement in the riots, according to China's state-run Xinhua news agency.

But the people involved in Tuesday's protests said police were casting too wide a net in their hunt for those involved.

"They took away all the young people, the kids in their 20s, and we want them back," said one protester named Mehmet, aged in his 30s.