Korla Clashes Spark Clampdown

Chinese police raid Uyghur homes and set up roadblocks following armed attacks.
2012-10-23
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A map of Korla, southwest of the capital Urumqi, in China's far northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
RFA

Authorities in China's troubled northwestern region of Xinjiang are carrying out raids on the homes of local residents following clashes between ethnic minority Muslim Uyghurs and armed police in the region's central city of Korla, an exile group said.

Dilxat Raxit, spokesman for the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, said there had been deaths and injuries among police and protesters on Friday after angry Uyghurs gathered outside a police station on Tuanjie Road in the city.

"There were deaths and injuries on both sides during the violence," Raxit said. "The local authorities have enforced a news blackout since the clashes took place, and have been conducting raids."

Uyghur residents of Xinjiang frequently report midnight, house-to-house raids on their homes during "strike hard" anti-terrorism campaigns, and after violent incidents.

Patrols, checkpoints

Hong Kong's Sun newspaper reported on Tuesday that three Uyghurs had attacked two or three members of China's People's Armed Police force at a police station in Korla on Friday.

Police had then opened fire, killing one attacker and injuring another, while the third was on the run, the paper said.

Police had set up patrols and checkpoints across the city following the attack, and have forbidden local media to report the incident, it said.

Online posts said one police officer had his arm severed in the attack but was out of danger, while a second remained in hospital in critical condition.

"These clashes are very worrying, and they seem to be getting worse and worse," Raxit said.

He said the authorities had discovered leaflets protesting Beijing's rule in Xinjiang in Korla and Kashgar cities during the past week, and the city-wide checks, which often include stop-and-search campaigns on city streets, were in part a response to the leaflets.

Attacked with axes

An employee at a restaurant on Korla's Jiaotong Road said he had heard about the clashes, though she didn't witness them.

"It was in the older neighborhood," she said. "I heard one Uyghur had been killed, but I'm not sure."

"But I heard it was Uyghurs attacking the police with axes."

An officer who answered the phone at the Tuanjie Road police station said he didn't know about the situation.

"If you want to ask about this, you had better come here yourself," he said.

Xinjiang has been rocked by sporadic violent incidents in recent years, including three days of deadly ethnic riots in Urumqi in 2009 that left at least 197 people dead, according to official figures.

The region is currently under tight security ahead of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha on Friday and a crucial leadership transition for China's ruling Communist Party at a national congress on Nov. 8.

Security and surveillance personnel are stationed in mosques across the region, and public assembly is forbidden, Raxit said.

Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.