Chinese leaders fired the Communist Party chief of the restive city of
Urumqi and the regional police chief Saturday following deadly protests
that inflamed ethnic tensions.
The official Xinhua news agency
did not give a reason for the removal of party head Li Zhi, who was
replaced by Zhu Hailun, and Liu Yaohua, head of the regional public
security department, who was replaced by Zhu Changjie.
of mainly Han Chinese took to the streets of Urumqi this week,
demanding better security following a series of bizarre attacks
The protesters also criticized authorities
for being too slow to punish those responsible for July's ethnic
violence between mainly Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese that killed
nearly 200 people in the capital of the Xinjiang region.
Officials say five people were killed Thursday during demonstrations.
Urumqi returned to an uneasy peace under the watch of thousands of
security forces, who patrolled the streets and set up security checks
throughout the city. There were reports of troops using tear gas to
break up a group of people gathered near city government offices.
deputy mayor, Zhang Hong, told reporters Friday that 21 Uighurs had
been detained, including four who were indicted for alleged involvement
in the syringe attacks. State media reported the majority of attack
victims were Han Chinese.
China's Public Security Minister Meng
Jianshu was also quoted by state-run Xinhua news agency as saying
ethnic separatist forces were to blame for the nearly 500 needle
Official media reports say only 89 people showed
obvious signs of being pricked by a needle, and no deaths, poisonings
or infections have occurred.
The Uighurs see Xinjiang as their
homeland and resent the millions of Han Chinese who have come to the
region in recent decades.
The Uighurs say the Han have
unfairly benefited from the riches of Xinjiang, a strategically vital
Central Asian region with significant oil and gas deposits.
The Han believe the Uighurs are unfairly favored by set-aside quotas for government jobs and university placements.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.