Police, Uighurs stand off in China's Urumqi | world | Hindustan Times
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Police, Uighurs stand off in China's Urumqi

world Updated: Jul 08, 2009 10:45 IST

AFP
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Hundreds of Muslim Uighurs wielding makeshift weapons engaged in a fresh stand-off with police in China's flashpoint Urumqi city on Wednesday, an AFP reporter witnessed.

About 200 Uighurs, armed with sticks, pipes and rocks, began protesting directly in front of a police cordon that was dividing their neighbourhood from a Han Chinese populated area, the reporter said.

The Uighurs yelled at police but there were no immediate violent clashes. Police moved foreign reporters away from the scene after about 15 minutes, preventing them from being able to witness the stand-off.

A smaller group of Uighurs had earlier been trading insults and accusations with Han Chinese who were on the other side of the police cordon.

The crowd of Uighurs grew after a helicopter dropped leaflets blaming unrest on Sunday -- that left 156 people dead -- on exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer.

After authorities blamed Uighurs for Sunday's unrest, that also left more than 1,000 people injured, Han Chinese took to the streets Tuesday with shovels, meat cleavers and other makeshift weapons vowing to defend themselves.

The city descended into chaos as mobs, sometimes made up of thousands of Han, surged towards Uighur neighbourhoods, only to be pushed back by security forces who fired volleys of tear gas.

Some Uighurs on Wednesday alleged that a large group of Han Chinese had been allowed to freely attack Muslim areas.

"Last night about 300 Han came through the security over there (pointing to the police cordon) and they attacked people's homes and smashed up a restaurant," Akbar, aged 20, told AFP.

"They even beat up a man in his 50s. What kind of person would do that?"

It was not immediately possible to verify the accusations.