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03-09-09, 06:11
New protests in western China

Fresh protests have been reported in the province of Xinjiang in western China, where almost 200 people were killed in ethnic violence in July.

Hundreds of ethnic Han Chinese are thought to be holding demonstrations in the capital, Urumqi.

Members of the city's Han community last held mass protests shortly after July's violence by ethnic Uighurs.

It was the worst ethnic unrest in China for decades; at least 197 people died and another 1,700 were injured.

The government says most of the dead were Han, but the exile activist group the World Uighur Congress claims many Uighurs were also killed.


A businessman in Urumqi told the BBC that members of the Han community were holding their demonstration to complain about the worsening security situation.

State media reported that 15 people were arrested in Urumqi for allegedly stabbing people with hypodermic syringes.

Xinhua news agency said the stabbing victims came from nine ethnic groups, including Uighurs and Han.

Shops and vehicles were destroyed in July's rioting
Other residents contacted by the Associated Press news agency said protesters were denouncing the regional government and had been blocked by police from marching on People's Square in the city's centre.

There has been tension for many years between Xinjiang's Uighur and Han communities.

Some Uighurs complain that Han migration into the province has diluted their culture and influence.

Han currently account for roughly 40% of Xinjiang's population, while about 45% are Uighurs.

The tensions exploded in early July after an initially peaceful protest by Uighur youths, apparently prompted by an earlier riot in a factory in southern China.

In the outbreak of violence, shops were smashed and vehicles set