China raises Xinjiang death toll to 184

BEIJING Fri Jul 10, 2009 7:49pm EDT

1 of 30. An ethnic Uighur boy stands at the door of his home as Chinese security forces secure the area in Urumqi in China's Xinjiang Autonomous Region July 10, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Nir Elias

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BEIJING (Reuters) - China has raised the death toll from ethnic rioting in the far western region of Xinjiang to 184, the state Xinhua news agency reported on Saturday.

It said 137 of those killed were Han Chinese, who form the majority of China's population.

Forty-six were Uighurs, a Turkic people who are largely Muslim and share linguistic and cultural bonds with Central Asia. They make up almost half of Xinjiang's 20 million people.

Xinhua said the other dead person from the violence that erupted last weekend was from the Hui Muslim ethnic group which is culturally akin to Han Chinese.

Beijing cannot afford to lose its grip on the vast territory that borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, has abundant oil reserves and is China's largest natural gas-producing region.

(Reporting by Lucy Hornby)

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