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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China Indicts 6 For Riots

BEIJING -- China has indicted six people in connection with rioting in the restive Xinjiang region in February that left nine dead, and the defendants could face the death sentence if convicted, a court official said Thursday.

But the official denied allegations by exiled separatists that China would execute two rioters Thursday, saying no one had been sentenced in the case yet.

"So far we have indicted six people," the official said by telephone from Yining in the Moslem region of Xinjiang.

In February, one of the largest demonstrations for independence in Xinjiang since the 1949 communist takeover turned violent, leaving nine people dead and 198 wounded in Yining, near the region's border with Kazakhstan.

Prosecutors have charged the six with hooliganism and endangering social order, the official said. They could be sentenced to death if convicted of hooliganism.

He declined to name the defendants, saying only that the six were all in their 30s and jobless.

Officials had previously identified the suspected ringleader as Abudu Heilili, 29, of the Uygur ethnic minority.

Heilili had been arrested for leading a less violent anti-Chinese demonstration in Yining in August 1995. He was released following "ideological education," or political indoctrination, officials have said.

At rally in Almaty, Kazakhstan, Uygur exiles said Thursday that only violence would end Chinese rule in remote Xinjiang, and they forecast more unrest.

Alleging Beijing intended on Thursday to execute two Uygur students who were arrested after riots in Xinjiang last month, about 35 young ethnic Uygurs staged a noisy protest demonstration outside the Chinese Embassy.