The Chinese government says security forces shot dead 12 ethnic Uighurs during the deadly July 5 riots in the capital of western Xinjiang region.

Xinjiang's governor, Nuer Baikeli, told reporters that three Uighurs died on the spot and nine died on the way to a hospital, or during hospital treatment.  Such acknowlegments by Chinese officials are rare.

State media Sunday quoted Baikeli who said the action was taken to prevent further bloodshed.  He said that in any country ruled by law, the use of force is necessary to protect the interest of people or prevent violent crime.
Chinese officials earlier said that 197 people died in the ethnic clashes between the Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese in the Urumqi violence, and that more than 1,600 people were injured. 

Authorities did not give the ethnic breakdown, but said most of those killed were Han Chinese. 

Uighur activists have disputed the official figures, saying that hundreds of people were killed and that most of them were Uighurs.

The Uighurs, a mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking people, make up nearly half of Xinjiang's 20 million population.  Uighurs have complained for years of being marginalized due to the influx of Han Chinese, China's dominant ethnic group. 

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