China stages another mass anti-terror rally in Xinjiang


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BEIJING, Feb 19 (Reuters) - Chinese security forces have
staged another mass anti-terror rally in the restive far western
region of Xinjiang, parading hundreds of armed men through the
streets of the regional capital Urumqi in a show of force after
an uptick in violence.
    Hundreds have died in Xinjiang in the past few years, mostly
in unrest between the Muslim Uighur people, who call the region
home, and the ethnic majority Han Chinese. Beijing blames the
unrest on Islamist militants.
    The Xinjiang government's news website on Saturday showed
pictures of hundreds of gun-toting police and soldiers standing
in front of a government building shouting out pledges to defeat
terror and lines of armoured vehicles driving though the
streets.
    Xinjiang deputy party secretary Zhu Hailun said the Urumqi
rally, following on from ones in Kashgar and Hotan in Xinjiang's
Uighur heartland in the region's deep south, were a sign of
"real action" to deepen the fight against terror.
    Militants and extremists would be "smashed and destroyed",
Zhu said.
    The official Xinjiang Daily on Sunday further quoted Zhu as
saying at the Saturday rally that no effort would be spared in
this regard.
    "With guns by our bodies, knives unsheathed, fists out and
hands extended, we must use thunderous power to strike hard
against terrorist activities," Zhu said.
    After a period of relative calm, there has been a rise in
violence in recent weeks, particularly in the region's south.
    On Tuesday, three knife-wielding attackers killed five
people and injured another five in Pishan County before
themselves being shot dead in Hotan prefecture.
    In December, five people were killed when attackers drove a
vehicle into a government building and police shot dead what
authorities described as three terror suspects last month.
    The government has blamed much of the unrest on separatist
Islamist militants, though rights groups and exiles say anger at
tightening Chinese controls on the religion and culture of
Muslim Uighurs is more to blame.
    China routinely denies any repression in Xinjiang.

 (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Michael Perry)
 ((ben.blanchard@thomsonreuters.com; +86 10 6627 1201; Reuters
Messaging: ben.blanchard.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

Keywords: CHINA XINJIANG/



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