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China rolls out heavy armor to quash violence

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By The Los Angeles Times
Saturday, June 29, 2013, 9:42 p.m.
 

BEIJING — Dozens of armored vehicles and military trucks rolled into the capital of the western Chinese region of Xinjiang on Saturday as President Xi Jinping ordered tighter security after at least two outbreaks of violence last week.

Photos from Urumqi showing dozens of white armored vehicles and open-topped trucks filled with troops and police in riot gear circulated on the microblog service Weibo. An Agence France-Presse reporter on the scene said the action shut down large sections of the city's center, with hundreds of armed troops massing in People's Square.

The display of might occurred amid rising tension between minority Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese authorities as the region prepares to mark the fourth anniversary of ethnic clashes that left nearly 200 people dead in Urumqi in July 2009.

In the latest incident, on Friday, state-run media said more than 100 knife-wielding people riding motorbikes attacked a police station in the city of Hotan; the number of casualties was unclear.

Official media reported no injuries or deaths, but Radio Free Asia said two people may have been slain by police officers who had become unnerved when Uighurs began shouting religious slogans after leaving a mosque.

Friday's violence followed a bloody clash on Wednesday in the town of Lukqun in which at least 35 people died. State-run media said mobs attacked a government office and a migrant worker dormitory and burned a police station. That was the deadliest incident since the riots in 2009.

In a commentary Friday, the Global Times, a newspaper closely affiliated with the Communist Party, acknowledged that “there are problems within Xinjiang” but denounced those behind the attacks as “cannon fodder with no political sense.”

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