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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Chinese police use tear gas against protestors in Xinjiang

RIA Novosti

17:07 04/09/2009 BEIJING, September 4 (RIA Novosti) - Chinese police used tear gas to disperse protests that began on Thursday in Urumqi, the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Xinhua said on Friday.

Two months after clashes left 197 people dead and 1,600 injured, city residents took to the streets again, demanding security guarantees amid a string of mysterious syringe attacks.

Almost 500 people have sought medical help since August 17 after being the victims of "syringe attacks" in the city, which has a high rate of HIV infections. None of the victims have been diagnosed with any disease or suffered the affects of poisoning.

Xiinhua said the attacks have not been targeted against any particular ethnic group.

A total of 21 people have been detained on suspicion of involvement in the attacks.

Friday's protests began when two Uighurs were caught with syringes in a Carrefour chain store. Police cordoned them off from the angry crowd, triggering a wave of protests, which developed into clashes with police.

The day before more than 1,000 people gathered in the city's residential area. Another crowd of protestors gathered at a wholesale market when a man was caught allegedly after stabbing a five-year-old girl with a syringe. The crowds then flocked to the city's main streets, but no violence was reported.

Urumqi authorities have banned any unsanctioned gatherings in the capital, warning that police will immediately clamp down on any demonstrations.

In early July Urumqi was hit by its worst ethnic violence in a decade, which began when a group of protesters demanded an investigation into the death of two ethnic Uighurs during a fight with Han Chinese workers.

Xinjiang's 8 million Uighurs have complained of political, cultural and religious persecution by Beijing and there have been repeated calls by the Uighur community for more autonomy, with some seeking independence from China.

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