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Grand bazaar reopens

THE International Grand Bazaar in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, reopened yesterday for the first time since the deadly riot on July 5.

Almost half of the 4,000 shops and booths in the bazaar in Urumqi opened around 11am and closed at 6pm, two-and-a-half hours earlier than usual, said Wuxkur Yunus, deputy manager of the bazaar.

"US fast-food chain stores, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Carrefour stores in the bazaar are scheduled to reopen tomorrow when 80 percent of the businesses will be open to customers," said Wuxkur.

The bazaar received only about 200 customers yesterday, compared with the usual 100,000 everyday before the riot, Wuxkur said.

Shop owners said they depend mainly on tourists for business but the number of tourists has dropped significantly since the riot.

Gulibahar, who sells shawls in the bazaar, said she used to sell 5,000 yuan (US$730) to 10,000 yuan worth a day before the riot, but failed to sell any yesterday.

"We hope the situation will get better, so that we will have customers," Gulibahar said.

Security was tightened as the bazaar administration doubled the number of security guards to 70. Police armed with batons and shields patrolled the bazaar. Knives were also banned from sale in the bazaar.

Tourist Ren Wentao said he noticed the small number of customers in the bazaar.

"There is nothing to be afraid of with the presence of police. I hope the bazaar could open for more hours," Ren said.

Wuxkur estimated that each of the shops suffered an average daily loss of 2,000 yuan during the 16-day closure.


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