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Ethnic tensions high in Kashgar as demolition of Old City threatens Uighur culture

Carlos Barria / Reuters

A woman cooks in her house next to the remnants of other houses, demolished as part of a building renovation campaign in the old district of Kashgar, in Xinjiang province August 3. The 'renovations' of the old Kashgar center is a prime example of China's modernizing campaigns in minorities ethnic regions. However many city residents have mixed feelings about the disappearance of the narrow streets and adobe homes once hailed as the best surviving example of Central Asian architecture.

Msnbc.com's Adrienne Mong reports from Kashgar on the complex situation there.

Over the weekend, Uighur assailants stormed a restaurant, killed the owner and a waiter, then hacked four people to death on a nearby street over the weekend. The Chinese government has begun the demolition of the historic Old City without consulting the native Uighurs.

As Mong writes:

It was hard to escape the symbolism of the demolitions.  Consider the mere fact that the Old City is no longer one whole.  We saw at least three different sections, surrounded by the high-rises of new Kashgar.  As a strategy to break up the Uighur community, it looks increasingly effective.


Reuters

Armed police officers are deployed at a square in Kashgar August 2. Chinese police have shot dead two suspects being hunted for a deadly attack in the restive western region of Xinjiang, which an exiled regional leader blamed on Beijing's hardline policies towards her people. The two suspects, Memtieli Tiliwaldi and Turson Hasan, were shot by police late on Monday in corn fields on the outskirts of Kashgar city, where on Sunday assailants stormed a restaurant, killed the owner and a waiter, then hacked four people to death, according to the Khasgar government website.

Carlos Barria / Reuters

Ethnic Chinese Han tourists pose for a picture in front of a mosque in Kashgar, Xinjiang province, August 3. Chinese security forces blanketed central areas of Kashgar city in the western region of Xinjiang on Tuesday, days after deadly attacks that China blamed on Islamic militants highlighted ethnic tensions in the Muslim Uighur area.

Carlos Barria / Reuters

An Uighur man waits for customers at his shoe store in Kashgar, Xinjiang province August 3, 2011. The deserted streets and shuttered shops in the usually bustling Chinese areas of Kashgar city on Wednesday stand as testament to the splintered ethnic lines in the western region of Xinjiang. Days after Uighur assailants stormed a restaurant, killed the owner and a waiter, then hacked four people to death on a nearby street over the weekend, Han Chinese residents -- the country's predominant ethnic group but a minority in Kashgar -- remained on edge.