China's state media said Saturday the Urumqi Communist Party chief was
fired following violent protests that left five people dead.
The official Xinhua news agency reported that Li Zhi was replaced as party head by Zhu Hailun, secretary of the Communist Party's Xinjiang Autonomous Regional Committee.
The report also said there was a leadership change in the (Xinjiang Autonomous Regional Public) Security Department, but did not give details.
The capital of China's Xinjiang region returned to an uneasy peace Saturday under the watch of thousands of security forces, who patrolled the streets of Urumqi and set up security checks throughout the city.
The increased security came after five people were killed and 14 others injured during violent protests Thursday triggered by a series of syringe attacks.
The city's deputy mayor, Zhang Hong, told reporters Friday that two of those killed during Thursday's demonstrations were "innocent civilians." He did not elaborate.
Zhang also said 21 Uighurs had been detained, including four who were indicted for alleged involvement in the syringe attacks. State media reported the majority of 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 attacks.
Police used tear gas and public appeals Friday to break up fresh protests, as thousands of Han Chinese demanded better security.
The Han say authorities have been 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.
Official media reports say only 89 people showed obvious signs of being pricked by a needle, and no deaths, poisonings or infections have occurred.
Paramilitary troops and police sealed off Uighur neighborhoods and blocked major roadways in Urumqi Friday.
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.