URUMQI, China - Thousands of angry Han Chinese armed with poles, meat cleavers and other makeshift weapons stormed through Urumqi on Tuesday as the flashpoint city riven by ethnic tensions descended into chaos.
But tensions remained at boiling point, with Han Chinese roaming the city wielding machetes, bricks, chains, steel bars and other weapons while calling for revenge against Muslim Uighurs who they blamed for Sunday's carnage. "The Uighurs came to our area to smash things, now we are going to their area to beat them," one protester, who was carrying a metal pipe, told Agence France-Presse.
Groups of 10 or so Uighur men with bricks and knives attacked Han Chinese passersby and shop-owners midday outside the city's southern railway station, until police ran them off, witnesses said. It was not immediately clear if anyone was killed in those reported attacks. Sunday's unrest, which also left more than 1,000 people injured, began with peaceful protests by Xinjiang's Uighurs. The region’s nearly 8 million Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking people who have long complained about the influx of Han Chinese into what they regard as their homeland, a vast area of mountains and deserts that borders Central Asia.
Chinese authorities have blamed exiled Muslim Uighurs for masterminding the unrest Ğ charges they deny Ğ and announced Tuesday they had arrested 1,434 suspects for murder, assault, looting and other crimes linked to the unrest.But Han Chinese in Urumqi declared they were not satisfied with the government response.
Trying to control the message, the government has slowed phone and Internet services, blocked Twitter and censored Chinese social networking and news sites and accused Uighurs living in exile of inciting Sunday's riot. State media coverage, however, carried graphic footage and pictures of the unrest Ğshowing mainly Han Chinese victims and stoking the anger, according to a report by The Associated Press.
Elsewhere in the city Tuesday, about 200 people, mostly women in traditional headscarves, took to the streets in another neighborhood, wailing for the release of their sons and husbands in the crackdown and confronting lines of paramilitary police.