Chinese officials say the death toll has climbed to 156 in clashes between ethnic Uighurs and police in the western Xinjiang autonomous region.
The officials accused the World Uighur Congress of instigating the
unrest that has injured at least 800 people since Sunday. The group is
led by Rebiya Kadeer, a Uighur businesswoman who spent years in a
Chinese jail and now lives in the United States.
Exile groups deny being involved. They say the unrest resulted from the
Uighurs' building frustrations with what they feel are the excessive
controls by the Han Chinese on economic opportunities, culture and
The Uighurs are largely Muslim.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that China
should peacefully resolve all differences of opinion through dialogue.
He urged all governments to protect the lives and safety of their
Mr. Ban also called for China to protect the freedoms of speech, assembly and information.
Chinese President Hu Jintao is on a visit to Italy and has not
addressed the unrest. However, Italian President Giorgio Napolitano
says he raised the issue of human rights during a meeting with Mr. Hu.
Mr. Napolitano said at a press conference Monday that he and Mr. Hu
agreed that the economic and social progress being achieved in China
places new demands on human rights.
In Xinjiang, the head of the Public Security Bureau, Liu Yaohua, says
the Uighur protesters began the riot Sunday by exploiting a conflict
that left two people dead in another part of China last month.
That incident broke out at a Guangdong toy factory after a false rumor spread that Uighur workers had raped two Chinese girls.
China has accused the Uighurs of seeking independence for Xinjiang, and has labeled some activists as terrorists.
Uighur activists say Chinese authorities have exaggerated the threat to
justify their cultural and religious controls on the group.