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Ethnic Violence Continues in Urumqi Despite Chinese Show of Force


Large numbers of security forces patrolled the capital city of China's Xinjiang province Wednesday in an attempt to stop a third day of ethnic violence.

Chinese authorities said the situation was under control Wednesday, following clashes between Muslim Uighurs, Han Chinese and security forces.

But there were reports of Han mobs assaulting Muslim Uighurs throughout the city, even as helicopters hovered overhead.

Ethnic Han Chinese residents armed with makeshift weapons and vowing revenge on Uighurs were seen roaming the streets for a second day.

The city's top Communist Party official, Li Zhi, said anyone found guilty of murder in connection with the violence will be executed.

Urumqi mayor Jerla Isamudin told reporters Wednesday that more than 100 people killed by rioters on Sunday had been identified.

The official death toll from the violence that Uighur groups said was sparked by a crackdown on a protest that began peacefully is still 156.

No information on the ethnicity of dead or the role of security forces in their deaths has been provided.

Xinjiang's Communist Party chief, Wang Lequan, on Wednesday continued to blame what he called "hostile foreign forces" for instigating the violence. Wang specifically named U.S.-based exile Rebiya Kadeer for masterminding the unrest, a charge which she has denied.

As the United States and other countries express concern about the situation in Xinjiang, Uighur exiles around the world held more demonstrations to condemn the Chinese government.

In Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will ask the United Nations Security Council to discuss ways to end the violence.

Earlier Wednesday, Chinese President Hu Jintao returned home from the G 8 summit in Italy to deal with the Xinjiang crisis.

Tensions between Han Chinese and Uighurs exploded last month, after a false rumor spread through a toy factory in Guangdong that Uighur workers raped two Chinese girls. Two people were killed after a fight broke out.

State-run media said police have arrested 1,434 suspects in the Xinjiang clashes, which injured more than 1,000 people on Sunday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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