China says it detains 94 who fled July rioting

AP News
Posted: Dec 09, 2009 2:51 AM

China said Wednesday that police had detained 94 people who fled the western region of Xinjiang after deadly rioting there in July _ the country's worst communal violence in decades.

China continues to pursue and punish people involved in the violence, which it says left more than 200 dead, most of them from the majority Han ethnic group.

As of Friday, China has handed down 17 death sentences over the rioting.

A monthlong "strike hard" campaign in November caught the latest 94 people, police in Xinjiang said Wednesday.

A woman answering the telephone in the Xinjiang region's police office said no further details were available, including how many of the 94 were Muslim Uighurs and how many were Han. The woman gave her surname as Li.

Long-simmering tensions between the Turkic Uighurs and the Han majority have increased since the July violence, in which Uighurs attacked Han, only to face retaliatory attacks two days later.

Overseas Uighur groups say Uighurs have been rounded up in mass detentions since the riots. Of the eight death sentences handed down last week over the violence, seven had names indicating they were Uighur.

State media reports said some of those sentenced to death had killed bystanders with bricks and fires during the rioting.

Many Uighurs resent Beijing's heavy-handed rule in Xinjiang, their traditional homeland. China says it respects minority rights and has spent billions on boosting living standards and economies in minority areas such as Xinjiang.

China blames the rioting on overseas-based groups agitating for broader rights for Uighurs in Xinjiang. The groups deny it.

Five months after the violence, Xinjiang remains under heavy security, with Internet access cut and international direct dialing calls blocked.