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No leniency for Xinjiang riot leaders

CHINA'S top police officer yesterday urged no leniency in the punishment of those who played a major role in Sunday's deadly riots in Urumqi.

Meng Jianzhu, public security minister, made the remarks while visiting people injured by the rioters and family members of the victims in the capital of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

At least 156 people died and more than 1,000 were hurt in the violence.

Those leading the riots should be punished "with the utmost severity," and those who participated - who were provoked and cheated by separatists - should be given "persuasion and education," Meng said.

The rioting in Urumqi forced President Hu Jintao to cut short his European trip and return to Beijing yesterday, skipping a G8 meeting with the leaders of other developing countries that was expected to address the economic crisis and climate change among other global issues.

A statement on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website said Hu returned to China "in light of the current situation in Xinjiang."

In Urumqi, Meng said that evidence proved the riot was masterminded and remotely controlled by overseas separatists and that China faced "a serious struggle to maintain national unity against separatism."


Addressing families whose relatives were killed in the riot, he said the government would provide compensation as soon as possible.

Meng also went to the city square and communities to meet with residents, saying all ethnic groups living in Xinjiang had made great contributions to the region's stability and prosperity.

He called on residents of all ethnic backgrounds to be united after the riot since the intention of the separatists who plotted the unrest was to stir up confrontations.

Also yesterday, Urumqi officials said the city aims to raise about 100 million yuan (US$14.6 million) to provide comfort to the victims of Sunday's riot.

Urumqi Mayor Jerla Isamudin said the city government has drawn up a plan to aid the people injured in the riot, and also to benefit the families of the dead.

The government will also subsidize enterprises that suffered great losses, aiming to help them resume operations as soon as possible, he added.

Police are using DNA technology to identify some of the dead left from Sunday's riot. The mayor said more than 100 peopled killed by rioters have been identified so far.


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