Paramilitary force in show of strength after Urumqi riots

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 July, 2009, 12:00am

About 1,100 members of Urumqi's paramilitary force lined up under a sweltering sun on Tuesday as officials vowed to maintain order.

The show of strength came as state media reported that more than 250 more people had been arrested in connection with the ethnic riots in the city this month.

Clad in camouflage uniforms and carrying riot shields, the soldiers gathered in a square beside the municipal government headquarters for inspection by Urumqi Mayor Jerla Isamudin and Senior Colonel Meng Fanming , commander of the municipal military garrison, China Youth Daily reported yesterday.

They pledged to fight for the stability of the Uygur-populated capital of the Xinjiang region in the aftermath of the July 5 riots between Han Chinese and Uygurs, in which nearly 200 people were killed and about 2,000 were injured.

'Urumqi's paramilitary force gathered swiftly and fought days and nights at the forefront in safeguarding the social stability of the city after the outbreak of the July 5 incident,' Mr Isamudin said.

Colonel Meng said the city's paramilitary force had helped chase and arrest more than 270 people.

Xinhua reported yesterday that police had arrested 253 more people for their alleged involvement in the violence after tip-offs from the public. Police detained and interrogated more than 1,000 suspects on the day after the unrest, the report said.

Liang Weilong, director of the Nanguan Public Security substation in Tianshan, the hardest-hit district, told the Xinjiang Daily that his colleagues were registering all residents under its jurisdiction.

The militia would also engage in community interaction, especially 'educating' the public as to the 'true nature' of the rioting, officials were quoted as saying.

Xinhua reported that an overseas internet surfer with the pseudonym 'Mukadaisi' had circulated a video clip titled 'a Uygur girl beaten to death' to Uygurs on QQ, a popular mainland chat website, two days before the rioting.

However, the clip turned out to be from Mosul, Iraq. It had been broadcast by CNN in 2007, the agency said.

Giving no details, the report said 'Mukadaisi' was part of the German-based World Uygur Congress, the organisation, led by dissident Rebiya Kadeer, which Beijing calls a 'black hand' behind the unrest.

Xinhua said the clip distributed by 'Mukadaisi' was one of the factors triggering the deadliest violence in Xinjiang for decades.