At least five people were killed in protests in the restive city of Urumqi, China, after days of syringe stabbings which have sent more than 500 people to the hospital, according to local officials.
For the last two days, more than a thousand people, mostly Han Chinese, have taken to the streets to demand that police and government officials take further action to keep this volatile city safe.
Deputy Mayor Zhang Hong said that five people have been killed and 14 wounded during protests over security. He said they died Thursday.
While no deaths have been associated with the needle attacks and no people have been reported poisoned by them, it is further evidence that this region is far from stable and the hostility endures. The majority Han Chinese are blaming Uighur Muslim separatists for the recent attacks.
Urumqi is on lock-down today. A perimeter has been set up around the city center and traffic controls on entry have been imposed. When an ABC News team arrived, our driver could only get us to within two miles of our hotel.
The crew had to walk the rest of the way with our suitcases and gear. When we were photographing the scene, the army guards stopped us and took our tapes.
We walked further up the street to shoot additional video and the troops then approached us again and took our camera. When we tried to get it back from them we were detained and taken to the local police station and held for a couple of hours.
Eventually, they gave us our camera back and escorted us to our hotel. They took photocopies of our press cards and passports and instructed hotel staff not to let us go outside.
There is no Internet set up in this hotel at night. So, we have to use a mobile satellite, aimed out of the window of our hotel room in order to get on the Web, check our e-mail and feed our video.
The army and police presence here is staggering. And they have clamped down further on journalists. Several crews have been detained and one Hong Kong crew was beaten.
Two months ago, when the first protests erupted here, reporters were allowed to move around with relative freedom. That is no longer the case. Security is both trying to prevent further unrest and to control the message that is being sent around the world about the situation on the ground here.
Police on Friday used tear gas and public appeals to break up crowds marching on government offices and called on authorities to punish those responsible for ethnic rioting in early July that left 197 people dead, the Associated Press reported.
China's police chief accused ethnic Muslim separatists of staging the bizarre series of hypodermic needle stabbings that sent thousands of Chinese into the streets in angry protests for a second day Friday to demand increased security in this western city.
Police used tear gas and public appeals to break up crowds of Chinese marching on government offices and calling on authorities to punish people awaiting trial for communal violence that left 197 people dead in early July in Urumqi. The police response was more forceful than on Thursday, the first day of protests by members of the Han Chinese majority unnerved by the recent spate of syringe stabbings on dozens of people.
Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu, who arrived in Urumqi to direct the police action, said the same ethnic separatists Beijing says were behind the rioting that started July 5 also orchestrated the needle attacks.