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Arrests imminent over Urumqi riot

PROSECUTORS said yesterday they were close to arresting the first suspects involved in the deadly July 5 riot in Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Kasim Mamut, head of the region's procuratorate, said it had invited hundreds of Uygur prosecutors from six prefectures and cities, such as Hotan and Kashi, to help conduct the investigation.

"The investigation will be carried out in strict accordance with the law," he said.

But the prosecutor did not reveal a time line for arrests.

Meanwhile, all 433 mosques in Urumqi were open for prayers yesterday, the main day of worship for Muslims.

Most mosques near the site of the riot, which left at least 192 people dead, were shut for security reasons the previous Friday at the request of imams.

As social order gradually returned to normal, all mosques reopened yesterday, or Jumu'ah Day, said an official in charge of religious affairs with the Xinjiang regional government.

A resident surnamed Ai said he saw police strengthen security around Yanghang Mosque yesterday as several thousand people waited outside for it to open.

Many who came late just laid their prayer rugs on the ground in the square.

"Members of the congregation had to open their bags for security checks before entering the mosque," Ai said.

The prayer ceremony started at 2:35pm and people chanted the Koran following the imams.

"The government brought the situation under control soon after the riot," said Tayir, a Uygur man who attended the ceremony. "Now social order is restored and we feel safe in the mosques."

The ceremony in China's largest mosque, the Id Kah Mosque in Kashi, went smoothly with a heavy police presence.

People entered through three security doors about 3:30pm as more than 20 police vans and armed officers watched the crowd and the building until the ceremony ended 15 minutes later.


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