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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Riots in Western China

URUMQI, China, July 8 -- Chinese President Hu Jintao canceled plans to attend a major summit in Italy and flew home early Wednesday after reports that chaos and panic had spread throughout the capital of China's far western region of Xinjiang.

Since clashes erupted Sunday between the region's Muslim Uighur minority and the dominant Han Chinese, leaving more than 150 dead, the government has deployed police and paramilitary troops, closed mosques, instituted a curfew and rounded up at least 1,400 people. Hu's withdrawal from the Group of Eight summit, reported by state media, signaled his government's growing concern about the unrest that continued to flare across this city.

Early Tuesday, a group of several hundred Uighur protesters, most of them women in head scarves, gathered to demand that their detained husbands and brothers be released and their dead be accounted for. At midday, Uighur and Han Chinese men traded blows at the train station until riot police dispersed them with tear gas. In the late afternoon, hundreds of Han Chinese men armed with everyday items such as kitchen knives, shovels, hammers and pipes began smashing Uighur food stalls and stores, and headed to a local mosque.

Read it all here.

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