Chinese authorities in the Xinjiang region ordered mosques in Urumqi to
stay closed Friday, the latest attempt to prevent more violence between
Uighur Muslims and Han Chinese.
The mosques were ordered to close during the traditional Muslim day of
prayer. But some of them opened as hundreds of the faithful gathered
outside, ignoring the presence of security forces deployed on the
Police also broke up a brief Uighur protest outside the White Mosque Friday.
Authorities sent thousands of troops to keep the peace in Urumqi after
an estimated 156 people were killed in violence that officials say
began when Uighur Muslims attacked Han Chinese Sunday.
Han Chinese residents took to the streets two days later, armed with
knives, bats and other weapons, seeking revenge against Uighurs. At
least 1,434 people have been arrested.
The unrest has prompted thousands of Urumqi residents to leave the city until the tensions subside.
Authorities ordered foreign reporters out of the historic Uighur city of Kashgar Friday citing concern for journalists' safety.
Chinese President Hu Jintao has called for stability in Xinjiang and
severe punishment for organizers of recent ethnic rioting in Urumqi.
Mr. Hu blamed the violence on terrorist and separatist groups at home
Friday, U.S. National Security Advisor James Jones urged Chinese
leaders to act with restraint in Xinjiang, during a meeting with the
Chinese delegation on the sidelines of the G-8 summit in Italy.
The Uighurs, a mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking people who make up nearly
half of Xinjiang's 20 million strong population, have complained for
years of being marginalized due to the increase of Han Chinese.