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Special> Focus on Xinjiang> Latest News
UPDATED: July 7, 2009
Xinjiang Party Chief Calls for Avoiding Ethnic Confrontation

Video grab shows Wang Lequan, secretary of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), delivers a televised speech on the riot on July 5 in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, on July 7 (XINHUA)

The city of Urumqi would adopt a "comprehensive traffic control" Tuesday night to avoid further chaos amid the ongoing unrest, said Wang Lequan, Communist Party chief of Xinjiang in northwest China, in a televised speech Tuesday.

The traffic control would be imposed from 9 p.m. Tuesday to 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, said Wang, secretary of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

"It may bring some inconvenience to you, but we expect your understanding," he said.

Wang delivered his speech when fresh chaos hit Urumqi again Tuesday afternoon, nearly two days after a riot that killed 156 people and injured more than 1,000 others.

Several thousand protesters, mostly Han Chinese, marched along Youhao Street and Guangming Street toward Erdaoqiao, mainly inhabited by Uygurs, in downtown Urumqi in the afternoon.

The protesters held clubs, knives, axes, hammers and various types of tools that could be used as weapons, and shouted "protect our home, protect our family members".

They were stopped by units of the Armed Police before reaching the destination. No clashes were reported.

In his speech, Wang called for avoiding confrontation between ethnic groups in the region.

"Some Han people took to the streets in Urumqi today, disrupting social order," he said. "It is completely unnecessary."

"Neither the people of Han nor Uygur ethnicity are willing to see the Han people being attacked. It is the same the other way around. If the Han people attack the innocent Uygur people, it is also heart-breaking."

"The family members of those who were involved in the violence are innocent. We should be cool-headed and do not be fooled by the enemies," he said.

"Our targets should be the hostile forces, both at home and abroad, and criminals, rather than our own brothers and sisters of different ethnic backgrounds," said the official.

"Unreasonable behavior will only further worsen the situation," he said.

Secretary of the CPC Urumqi city committee Li Zhi took to the streets at about 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to persuade the protestors to return home.

Under police protection, a Uygur woman and her child passed the downtown Jiexin Garden, where about 3,000 people gathered. "Some rioters killed our families, including women and children. We cannot do so. Let them pass," said a citizen among the crowd.

The crowded protestors dispersed before the traffic control was imposed.

A boy about 13 years old who climbed up a tree in the nearby Mashi Compound for fear of the fresh riot was sent back home by the police and some Han people.

But some customers and students in the streets were still holding sticks in case of more danger two hours before the traffic curfew was scheduled to start.

Wang said an overwhelming majority of the suspects involved in the deadly riot were under investigation.

"Some of those involved are students. Most of the youngsters were unaware of the truth. If they did not play a major role in the violence, they will be released. Their future should not be ruined."

"All the injured have received the best medical treatment," said Wang.

The government would comfort and compensate bereaved families, and strive to help restore business for those who suffered losses in the violence, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 7, 2009)

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