China: Urumqi calm after top officials dismissed
Sep 6, 2009, 11:37 GMT
Beijing - The security presence in Urumqi, the capital of China's restive Xinjiang region, remained high on Sunday but the streets were calm, a day after several top government officials were dismissed over deadly riots in the city, state media reported.
Five people died after tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets on Thursday and Friday, criticising local city and regional leaders for failing to ensure security in Urumqi.
The city's Communist Party Secretary Li Zhi was removed from his post on Saturday, along with Xinjiang's police chief Liu Yaohua, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Zhu Hailun, secretary of the region's Political and Legislative Affairs Committee, will replace Li Zhi, while party chief of Aksu Prefecture Zhu Changjie, will take up the position of police chief, the news agency said.
Ongoing tensions between Xinjiang's ethnic Uighur and Han Chinese residents reached a climax in July, when bloody clashes broke out on the streets of Urumqi leaving at least 197 people dead, and more than 1,000 injured.
Tensions again rose after a number of syringe attacks were reported by the city's residents, starting on August 17.
Local hospitals had dealt with 531 victims of syringe stabbings, most of them Han Chinese, Xinhua reported, with 106 people showing obvious signs of needle attacks.
While no immediate infections were identified, many victims are worried about the transmission of HIV.
According to Xinhua, investigations showed that the perpetrators were Uighurs, and police had detained 25 people.
'Four suspects, three men and one woman, have been prosecuted for endangering public security', Wutkur Abdurahman, the city's procurator general was quoted as saying.
However, accounts of the attacks have so far not confirmed that they were ethnically motivated.
Two suspects threatened and robbed a taxi driver using a syringe, another stabbed a woman at a roadside fruit stall, and a police officer was stabbed with a drug-filled needle while dealing with a man who was resisting arrest, according to Xinhua.
Meanwhile, more than 2,000 officials and police officers have been sent to Uighur and Han communities in Urumqi to 'help solve public disputes', Xinjiang's regional Communist Party leader Wang Lequan was quoted as saying Sunday.