5 dead in Urumqi protests

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Five people were confirmed killed and 14 others injured and hospitalized during massive protests Thursday against hypodermic syringe attacks in Urumqi, capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the city's executive deputy mayor Zhang Hong said Friday.

Among the five dead, two were innocent civilians. Police are trying to identify the remaining three, Zhang said.

He said a spate of syringe attacks, since Aug.20, had triggered terror and dissatisfaction among people in Urumqi. On Wednesday, some victims and people of Han ethnic group attacked suspects who were allegedly syringe attackers and one of them was seriously injured.

"Since Thursday, there have been several syringe attacks, which caused protests and small-scale confrontation," he said.

He said investigations showed those carrying out the syringe attacks were from the Uygur ethnic group while the attacked included Han Chinese and other ethnic groups. He also said no one had died during the smaller-scale protests Friday.

By Thursday, local hospitals had dealt with 531 victims of hypodermic syringe stabbings, 106 of whom showed obvious signs of needle attacks.

Zhang said the attacks were premeditated and organized to create terror in society.

"The 'three forces' (separatism, terrorism and extremism) at home and abroad are not willing to see ethnic unity and their failure when the July 5 violence died down quickly," he said. "So they are using 'soft violence' to disrupt social order and instigate ethnic hatred."

(Xinhua News Agency September 5, 2009)

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