Beijing The Chinese government acknowledged for the first time that police killed 12 people during July 5 unrest in western China but put the blame squarely on rioters, saying they stockpiled weapons and planned synchronized attacks on targets across the city of Urumqi.
But an expert on the situation in western China’s Xinjiang province said such accusations should be treated with skepticism because they are Beijing’s attempt to distract people from the real issues upsetting ethnic minority Muslim Uighurs in the region.
The unrest began July 5 when a peaceful protest by Uighurs in Urumqi turned violent after police intervened. Uighurs went on a rampage in the city, smashing windows, burning cars and beating Han Chinese, the nation’s dominant ethnic group. Two days after the first rioting, vigilante groups of ethnic Han took to the streets and attacked Uighurs.
The official Xinhua News Agency said late Saturday that the rioters appeared to have been well-organized, saying weapons were gathered in advance and that the agitation occurred all over the city. The report did not name individual sources nor offer concrete evidence. Government departments were either unreachable or refused comment.