At least 140 killed in ethnic unrest in western China

140 people have been killed and more than 800 wounded in riots that rocked the western China at the weekend, the deadliest social unrest since the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Running battles raged through the city of Urumqi throughout Sunday, pitting members of the Uighur minority against ethnic Han Chinese. Witnesses said that up to 3,000 rioters went on the rampage, smashing buses and overturning police barricades during several hours of violence, The Times Online reports.

By Monday, police had arrested several hundred participants, the Xinjiang Public Security Department said, according to Xinhua. Police were searching for about 90 other key figures.

"Traffic control was partially lifted Monday morning in parts of Urumqi ... but tension still exists in the city," Xinhua said. "Debris has been cleared from the roads and normal traffic has resumed. Workers are still pulling away damaged vehicles from the worst-affected roads in the city," CNN reports.

In the meantime The Chinese government accused Uighur exiles in the U.S. of masterminding what was described by state television as a rampage of "beating, smashing, robbing and burning."

But representatives of the Uighurs, a Muslim minority, countered that they were holding a peaceful demonstration that turned ugly because of government brutality, The Los Angeles Times reports.