One of our frequent commenters, Wahaha, pointed us to this very recent news story.
Details are still a bit sketchy. According to the report, “On July 5th at around 8:00 P.M., incidents of rioting and beating occurred in Urumqi. People in People’s Square, Jiefang St., the bus station, Xinhua South Street, Outer Ring Road, etc, illegally assembled and rioted, looted, and burned.” It also says the local government is currently “dealing with” the situation. Currently, three deaths have been reported, as well as countless injuries and much property destruction.
The report blames Rabiye Qadir, Uighur businesswoman and separatist, alleging that her group posted internet messages inciting chaos, such as “[we should] be a bit braver” and “[we should] do something big”.
Far West China, Xinjiang’s finest English blog, has more details. A curfew has been set for everyone in the city and, as one might expect, videos are being blocked nearly as fast as they make their way onto the Chinese internet. Josh speculates that the riots stem from the earlier Shaoguan incident, a brawl in a toy factory between Han and Uighur workers in which two Uighurs died.
As usual, ESWN also has a great roundup of the news and some videos (for anyone with uncensored access to Youtube, anyway):
Further bulletins as events warrant. And, as Josh put it: “If you are planning on traveling to Xinjiang anytime this week it might be wise to reconsider your plans.”
UPDATE: (via CDT) Interestingly, Chinese blogger Yang Jie theorizes that the rioters in people’s Square came from outside of Urumqi because of their poor Chinese. If this is true, it would certainly support theories that this event was planned beforehand.
UPDATE 3: Xinhua is so weird sometimes. As of right now, their English story reports the death toll has risen to 156 people, although their Chinese language story still lists the deaths at 140. The English story has a newer timestamp than the Chinese one so that makes sense, but is anyone else surprised that they’re filing these stories in English before they file them in Chinese? Does this indicate they care more about shaping the way this plays internationally (at least right now) than internally, or that they feel the internal story is already suitably controlled? Interesting stuff.
Anyway, the English story also notes that 700 suspects have already been detained in connection with the riots and that police have also foiled 200 would-be rioters gathering at a mosque in Kashi, Xinjiang.