Posted November. 01, 2004 23:00,
In Zhongmu, a town in Chinas Henan Province, bloody clashes that erupted on October 29 between the Han ethnic majority and the Hui Muslim minority killed at least 20 people and martial law has been imposed on the town, local residents said.
On October 31, the New York Times quoted local residents saying that as many as 148 people, including 18 police officials, might have been killed. However, the exact number has not yet been confirmed. The authorities and media have not made any comment on this violence.
According to the report by the New York Times, on October 29, a six-year old Han girl who was hit by a Hui taxi driver was placed in critical condition. The girls relatives and townspeople thronged to the town of the taxi driver, demanding compensation. A Han man was beaten up during this protest, which eventually led to the bloody clashes.
A Muslim imam of Nanren village, near eastern Zhengzhou in Henan Province, said that Nanren village was where the clash started and that two Hui and four or five Han people had been killed. A local resident said that four people were killed in the clash and that people rushed into the streets carrying clubs in their hands and setting fire to several houses. A taxi driver in Zhongmu said that more than 10 Han and 10 Hui were killed.
The Chinese government is reported to be sending thousands of troops and police to put the violence under control and impose martial law. Currently, the main roads to Zhongmu are blocked and transportation services are partly suspended. An official of the city of Kaifeng, in eastern Zhongmu, acknowledged that the government had imposed martial law on the town due to rioting between the Han and Hui, but he said there were only a few injured people, not dead.
With a population of 8.6 million, the Hui is one of 55 ethnicities in China. Most of them live in the Hui Autonomous District of Ningxia, and others reside near mosques in the middle west of China. The New York Times said that, since the 1980s, Huis have been discontented over the fact that their regions, unlike other cities and coastal areas, have been underdeveloped and isolated from the nations high-speed economic growth.