Updated July. 07, 2009 19:50
The bloody clashes in Chinas far western Xinjiang province were sparked by a rumor that intensified the long-standing tension between Han Chinese and Muslim Uighurs, the British daily The Times said yesterday.
The Times said Early Light toy factory in Shaoguan, Guangdong province, hired 800 Uighurs in May and last month. A fired Han Chinese man held a grudge against Uighurs on the belief that he was laid off due to newly hired Uighurs.
The man uploaded June 16 an online post that said, "Six Uighur workers raped two innocent Han Chinese girls at the toy factory." As the rumor spread like wildfire, the tension between the two ethnic groups ran high.
Nine days later, hundreds of Han Chinese headed to a dormitory and beat Uighurs staying there through early June 26, killing two and injuring 118.
Chinese police concluded that the rumor was groundless and arrested the rumor starter June 28, but it was too late. The news that Uighurs were beaten to death by Han Chinese prompted the Muslim minority to demand independence from China.