Article published on the 2009-07-07 Latest update 2009-07-07 15:07 TU
Uighur protesters gather during a demonstration in Urumqi, Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region July 7, 2009.
France has expressed concern over ethnic clashes in China's Xinjiang province which has left 156 people dead and says that the EU is discussing how to react. The Organisation of the Islamic Conference slammed the "disproportionate use of force" used in the mainly Muslim province.
"We are worried and concerned," said French Foreign Ministry representaative Eric Chevallier. "There will probably be a European response."
Exiled ighur activist Rebiya Kadeer, whom Beijing accuses of stirring up the violence, has called on the EU, the US and the UN to condemn Beijing's handling of the crisis.
On Tuesday, police fired teargas to disperse thousands of Han and Hui Chinese protesters armed with makeshift weapons in Urumqi city on Tuesday. An estimated 10,000 members of China's majority ethnic group rallied in the capital of Xinjiang region, vowing revenge against the Muslim Uighur minority, whom they blame for rioting on Sunday that left 156 people dead.
Police prevented the protesters from getting through to an area populated by Uighur, who are the majority group in Xinjiang. Many of the demonstrators were carrying chains, machetes and bats. Some of them were waving national flags and chanting "Safeguard our people!" and "Unity!"
Chinese authorities confirmed Tuesday that they had cut off Internet access in parts of Urumqi to prevent the violence from spreading.
Earlier, Muslim Uighur protested in front of foreign journalists, calling for the release of 1,434 people who were arrested for their alleged involvement in riots on Sunday.
The Uighur protesters approached six buses carrying foreign journalists, demanding the release of detained relatives. Hundreds of police surrounded the protestors but they refused to leave. The police were finally able to disperse them peacefully after about an hour.
Sunday's unrest saw thousands of Uighurs take to the streets, with state television showing protesters attacking Han Chinese.
China's eight million Uighurs are a Turkic-speaking people who have long complained about the influx of Han Chinese into what they regard as their homeland, as well as political and cultural repression.
Exiled Uighur groups have sought to lay the blame for Sunday's violence on Chinese authorities, saying the protests were peaceful until Chinese security forces over-reacted and fired indiscriminately on crowds.