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Xinjiang opposition group calls for EU observers

world Updated: Jul 11, 2009 19:57 IST

A Uighur group on Saturday called on the European Union to send observers to China's Xinjiang region where ethnic unrest has left at least 184 dead.

The Uighur World Congress condemned what it called "the brutal crackdown by China" in Xinjiang, where Muslim Uighurs make up about half the population of the remote region.

In a statement sent to AFP, the congress said: "We are alarmed that more casualties will happen and therefore appeal to the European Union and her chairman country Sweden to send observers to the area in order to stop the brutal crackdown.

"The whole world should condemn the inhuman crimes of the Chinese government. It is the Chinese government behind the conflicts and riots," said the statement signed by congress spokesman Dilxat Raxit.

Chinese authorities say that at least 184 people have died, including 137 Han Chinese.

Uighurs rampaged through the streets of the capital, Urumqi, and attacked Han Chinese during the unrest, according to victims and witnesses AFP spoke with in Xinjiang, and footage broadcast by China's state media.

Exiled Uighur leaders insist the protests were peaceful until security forces over-reacted with deadly force, and that there could be hundreds more deaths in Xinjiang.