Update on Urumchi

It’s getting very ugly in Xinjiang. The violent riots by ethnic Uighurs have now been followed by vigilante mobs of Han Chinese, chanting “We want revenge for our dead.” Urumchi is now under martial law. The death toll is at 156 and rising; no one has a clear breakdown on how many deaths were caused by police and how many by the rioters. 1400 people have been arrested. The UK’s Telegraph newspaper has a correspondent on the ground, who is reporting that fresh demonstrations have started after the police subdued the activity on Sunday.

Al-Jazeera English has been reporting live from Xinjiang and putting their reports on YouTube. Their correspondent, Melissa Chan, has been on Twitter live from Xinjiang. As the New York Times reports, Twitter has been blocked by the Chinese government, but she is texting a friend who posts for her via proxy. The internet has been blocked completely in some parts of Xinjiang. For additional live tweeting from Xinjiang, you can follow Austin Ramzy reporting for Time.com and Malcolm Moore with the Daily Telegraph.

It’s still hard to identify the cause of the violence. The Chinese government continues to blame violent separatists, and it has accused exiled Uyghur leader Rebiya Kadeer of masterminding the violence. Kadeer issued a statement today condemning both the Chinese government and “the violent actions of a number of Uyghur demonstrators that have been reported.” BBC reports that the violence was triggered by “a brawl between Uighurs and Han Chinese several weeks earlier in a toy factory thousands of miles away in Guandong province.” The follow-up protests seem to be women angry about the imprisonment of their sons and spouses.

Sky News has some dramatic footage.