Activist 'stirred up fire protests'
By IRENE SO
EXILED dissident Wu'erkaixi and Western reactionary forces stirred up protests in Xinjiang after a fire killed hundreds of children, an official said yesterday.
The claim was made by Wang Lequan, deputy party secretary of Xinjiang Autonomous Region.
He admitted some of the victims' families had demonstrated on the streets in the city of Karamay after the December 8 tragedy.
It was the first official acknowledgement that any disturbances took place in Karamay after the fire that killed 325 people, mostly children, as they watched a cultural performance at a city hall.
Mr Wang blamed Westerners and dissidents abroad for plotting to split the autonomous region.
He said Wu'erkaixi was 'the most prominent' of them and was like Ai San, a Kuomintang official who reportedly fled abroad with Xinjiang residents when the communists took power on the mainland.
He vowed to fight against the reactionary forces.
Mr Wang, overseeing the fire investigation, said 19 people were punished, including a senior NPC member, who was dismissed.