China Closes Urumqi Mosques, Imposes Curfew

By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 10, 2009 6:29 AM CDT
Chinese police officers patrol a Uighur district in Urumqi, western China's Xinjiang province, today.   (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
camera-icon View 2 more images

(Newser) – Chinese authorities forced mosques in Urumqi to stay closed today and reimposed a curfew in the restive western city, reports the BBC. The curfew was lifted after thousands of troops had seemed to restore order between Han Chinese and Uighur Muslims, who have battled in the worst ethnic violence China has seen in years. Friday is the holiest day of the week in Islam, and at least two mosques held prayers today in defiance of Beijing.

Thousands of people, both Han and Uighur, have fled Urumqi since the violence began, and the city's main bus station is heaving with refugees. Scalpers are charging as much as five times the normal price for bus tickets, many of which are being bought by university students. Yesterday, a foreign ministry official accused some Uighurs of receiving "training from foreign terrorist groups, including al-Qaeda," though he refused to elaborate.