Residents 'scared to death' as violence stalks Urumqi | Shanghai Daily

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Residents 'scared to death' as violence stalks Urumqi

RETURNING to his Geely automobile showroom after Sunday's violence, Guo Jianxin was still frightened yesterday.

"Fortunately I managed to get out," said the general manager of the dealership in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

"It was about 10pm and I found rioters outside," he said.

The manager called more than 20 workers who had already left for the day.

"I asked them to help protect the store, but there were too many rioters ... more than 100, holding knives, clubs and stones," said Guo, an ethnic Hui.

Failing to dissuade the rioters from entering the store, Guo led his workers in an escape. They hid on a hill nearby.

The three-story building was set ablaze, while more than 30 new cars were torched. One worker's arm was broken.

Opposite the store was a shop owned by a Han couple. They said they saw rioters on the streets after 10pm and immediately shut their door and fled.

When they returned, the couple found that their shop was burned and around 20,000 yuan (US$2,941) and a camera were gone.

But they didn't complain too strongly. Next door, a young worker from Sichuan Province was beaten to death.

Liu Jie, the owner of a supermarket on Houquan Street, said the store lost more than 900,000 yuan in the violence.

"Rioters came at 7:50pm ... altogether five groups," she said.

Liu and more than 100 students from a training center next door hid in the basement of the supermarket as rioters overturned the shelves and smashed bottles.

"We were scared to death," she said.

At about 2am yesterday they heard police enter and were rescued. When they came out, Liu saw many people lying in the street. "Blood was everywhere," she said.

At People's Hospital, one of the biggest medical centers in Urumqi, 291 riot victims were treated, including 17 who died later. Among them, 233 were Han Chinese, 39 were Uygurs, and the rest were from other ethnic minorities such as Hui and Kazak, said hospital President Wang Faxing.

In the intensive care unit, more than 20 of the most seriously injured were being treated. They were all unconscious, with wounds to the head, chest or limbs.

One of the injured was Zhu Haifeng, a 16-year-old student who was assaulted on the way home from school. He had been hit on the head and his eyes were swollen.

"When his parents found their unconscious son, they could hardly recognize him," a doctor said.

Previous Unrest In Xinjiang Region

- In January 2007, police destroyed a terrorist training camp in the Pamir plateau, killing 18 terrorists and capturing 17. Officers also seized 22 hand grenades, more than 1,500 half-finished grenades and homemade explosives. One officer was killed and another injured in the raid.

- Chinese police smashed a terrorist gang on January 27, 2008, in Urumqi, the regional capital, killing two and arresting 15. Five police officers were injured during the raid when three homemade grenades were thrown at them.

- On March 7, 2008, a 19-year Uygur attempted to carry out a terrorist attack on a China Southern Airlines flight that left Urumqi for Beijing. The attempt was foiled.

- Two terrorists armed with guns, explosives, knives and axes drove a heavy truck onto a team of more than 70 police officers during regular morning exercises in Kashgar on August 4 last year. Seventeen people were killed and 15 injured in the attack four days before the Beijing Olympics.

- On August 10, 2008, a series of explosions occurred in supermarkets, hotels and government buildings in Kuqa County, killing a security guard and injuring two policemen. Eight terrorists were shot dead by police while two others killed themselves in suicide bombings.







 

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