Police in China's Xinjiang hold anti-riot exercises | world | Hindustan Times
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Police in China's Xinjiang hold anti-riot exercises

world Updated: Jun 11, 2010 12:16 IST

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Police in China's restive Xinjiang region have held massive anti-riot exercises to prepare for the first anniversary of ethnic unrest that left nearly 200 people dead, state press reported.

Nearly 1,000 police, anti-riot squads, special forces and paramilitary police participated in the joint exercises in the regional capital Urumqi, where the ethnic riots exploded in July 2009, the China News Service said.

Photos of the exercises in China's traditionally Muslim far west showed riot police using clubs and water cannons against mock rioters, while attack dogs, snipers and machine-gun wielding assault teams were also mobilised.

"This is a comprehensive test of the emergency response of the Urumqi police at all levels," the report quoted a police official as saying.

"We are assessing our level to address sudden incidents and to better clarify the responsibilities and methods of police forces."

Last July, nearly 200 people were killed and up to 1,700 injured in clashes in Urumqi pitting mainly Muslim Uighurs against members of China's dominant Han group, according to government figures.

The unrest was the worst ethnic violence in the nation in decades.

China regularly blames "separatists" for stoking ethnic unrest in Xinjiang, as it did in last year's riots, but has provided no evidence of any organised separatism.

Xinjiang's roughly eight million Uighurs -- a Muslim, Turkic-speaking people -- have seethed under Chinese control for decades, alleging political, religious and cultural oppression by Beijing.