- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 11, 2009

URUMQI, China | Boisterous crowds turned up at mosques in riot-hit parts of this western Chinese city, ignoring orders canceling Friday prayers due to the ethnic violence, and police quickly broke up a small protest nearby.

Nearly a week after riots in Xinjiang unleashed clashes and drew a massive security response, the U.S. national security adviser told Chinese diplomats on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit in Italy that President Obama expects Beijing to act with “appropriate restraint.”

Xinhua News Agency reported Friday that the death toll in the ethnic rioting had risen from 156 to 184.

The dead included 137 people — 111 men and 26 women — from the dominant ethnic Han Chinese group. The agency said the other fatalities include 46 Uighurs and one man from the Hui ethnic group. Xinhua said the Muslim Uighur victims include 45 men and one woman.

It is the first time China’s government has given an ethnic breakdown in the riots.

On Friday, about 100 men argued with guards, demanding they be let in for prayers at the White Mosque — near the Uighur neighborhood that saw some of the worst violence after angry protests Sunday spiraled into a riot.

Near the mosque, a group of about 40 Uighur men and women began to march, shouting, crying and pumping their fists in the air as they walked.

A group of 10 police officers in bulletproof vests and helmets and armed with batons and stun guns blocked their march within minutes. Police pushed journalists away from the area and detained at least four foreign journalists, holding them for several hours.

A few blocks from the White Mosque, at the Yang Hang mosque, hundreds of men streamed in clutching green, red and blue prayer mats. A notice that had been glued to the front gate canceling the day’s service was gone.

A mosque official, who refused to give her name, had said earlier the closure was ordered for public safety reasons after the widespread ethnic violence.

In L’Aquila, Italy, James L. Jones, the U.S. national security adviser, urged two Chinese diplomats “to ensure that government forces act with appropriate restraint,” according to a senior Obama administration official, who described the meeting to reporters on background.

Meanwhile, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday denounced the violence in Xinjiang as a “kind of genocide,” according to an Agence France-Presse report.

“There is no other way of commenting on this event,” Mr. Erdogan told reporters after returning to Turkey from the Group of Eight summit.

Uighurs are Turkic speakers, and Turkey, while recognizing Chinese sovereignty in Xinjiang, has been particularly outspoken on the Uighur case.

Thousands of Turks and Uighur expatriates took to the streets across Turkey after Friday prayers, protesting the violence in Xinjiang and burning Chinese flags and products.

In China, officials in the city of Kashgar, a historic Uighur cultural and commercial center near Xinjiang’s border with Pakistan, declared the city off-limits to reporters in all but name. Foreign reporters were not allowed to leave their hotels, except to travel to the airport.

The violence in Urumqi began when Uighurs clashed with police while protesting the deaths of Uighur factory workers in a brawl in another part of the country. The crowd then scattered throughout Urumqi, attacking Han Chinese, burning cars and smashing windows.

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