China Sentences 4 More to Death in Xinjiang

Officials said Tuesday that a court in China's Xinjiang region has sentenced four people to death over deadly riots in July.

The verdicts were handed down Monday by a court in the regional capital of Urumqi, the scene of violence that pitted mainly Muslim Uighurs against China's Han ethnic majority. The riots left nearly 200 people dead and more than 1,600 injured.

A court official said one more defendant was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve and eight others got prison terms of up to life. The names of the four condemned people suggest they are Uighurs.

The sentences bring to 26 the number of people sentenced to death in connection with the riots. Nine of those executions have already been carried out.

Uighur rights groups say Beijing is especially targeting the Muslim minority in connection with the deadly clashes.

Uighurs are an ethnic Turkic Muslim group linguistically and culturally distinct from the Han. Like Tibetans, many Uighurs resent Beijing's heavy-handed rule in Xinjiang, and government restrictions on religion and culture.

Beijing blames the unrest on Uighur separatists fighting for an independent "East Turkistan." It says the riots were orchestrated by overseas Uighur organizations.

Rights groups and Uighur activists say Beijing exaggerates the threat from militants in the region to justify its harsh controls there.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters and AFP.