URUMQI, China – Hundreds of helmeted troops in riot gear swarmed the central square of the capital of western Xinjiang on Wednesday after ethnic riots left at least 156 dead. The city's Communist Party boss promised those behind the killings would be executed.
Ethnic clashes have paralyzed Urumqi over the past several days — with minority Uighur and Han Chinese mobs roaming the streets and attacking each other. The violence forced President Hu Jintao to cut short a trip to Italy where he was take part in a Group of Eight summit — an unprecedented move by a Chinese leader.
The government further responded Wednesday to the violence by pouring columns of troops into the far-flung province, hundreds of which were stationed in People's Square in the middle of the city.
Communist Party chief Li Zhi told a televised news conference that many people had been arrested, including students.
"To those who committed crimes with cruel means, we will execute them," he said, adding government forces would crack down on any security risk. He did not give details.