Police Arrest 319 People in Unrest in Xinjiang

The official state news agency says police in western China have detained another 319 people suspected of being involved in deadly ethnic unrest.

The official Xinhua News Agency reports the latest detentions are in addition to earlier announcements by the government that more than 1,600 people were taken into custody, WGME reports.

“Every suspect, without any exception, will be arrested and punished according to the law to root out any hidden danger,” Xinhua said. It added that many of those detained in recent days had been turned in by people outraged by the violence, which claimed 197 lives, nearly two-thirds of the victims Han Chinese. “It aroused the feelings of local residents, and they had more initiative in exposing those suspects and provided a huge amount of clues,” Xinhua said, The New York Times reports.

Chinese authorities called on the public to turn in those linked to the clashes between Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese, issuing photos last week of 15 people wanted by the police. The government blames the violence on Uighur separatist groups it accuses of trying to split Xinjiang from the control of the government in Beijing.

Hundreds of Uighur protesters attacked Han Chinese, smashed businesses and set fire to buses in Urumqi on July 5. Two days later, thousands of Han Chinese took to the streets armed with machetes, steel bars and other weapons seeking retribution. Police fired tear gas and formed barricades to stop them from entering Urumqi’s Uighur neighborhoods, Bloomberg reports.

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