Urumqi leader sacked over protests

Tough times: Security forces clear the crowds after a reported syringe stabbing incident near The People Square in Urumqi on Saturday. REUTERS

Protesters marched by thousands on Thursday and Friday demanding the resignation of Li Zhi and the regional party boss for failing to provide adequate public safety in the city.
Urumqi has been on edge since communal violence between Muslim Uighurs and members of China’s Han Chinese majority left 197 dead in July. Dozens of random stabbings with hypodermic needles in recent weeks, allegedly by Muslim separatists, touched off the protests, which left five dead.

Cable TV of Hong Kong reported that for a second day on Saturday police fired tear gas to break up a crowd, this time trying to march on city government. Unconfirmed reports of new needle attacks continued to agitate crowds.
The government replaced Li Zhi with Zhu Hailun, the party’s top official in charge of law enforcement in Urumqi.

Also sacked was the police chief of Xinjiang, China’s western most region that abuts Central Asia.

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