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Olympics related violence in western China -

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Olympics related violence in western China

The World Today - Wednesday, 13 August , 2008 12:45:00

Reporter: Stephen McDonell

ELEANOR HALL: To China now where the Olympic Games appears to have led to an explosion of violence
in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang.

According to local media reports, ethnic Uighur separatists have been attacking police and other
government officials in an attempt to upstage the Games.

It is being reported that 31 people have been killed there in eight days of clashes.

China correspondent Stephen McDonell is in the city of Kashgar where eight security personnel were
stabbed to death yesterday.

He joins us now. Stephen what is the mood now in Kashgar?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Well if you walk around the city and speak to people, they are quite nervous
speaking about their situation, the security presence and why in fact, they may want independence.

Now this is a place where recently there has been some killing, a round of killing here and we
tried to get to that area but if you try to speak and people how to get there, what is going on,
they are very suspicious of outsiders. They are even suspicious of local people because they think
there might be spies amongst their own rank.

ELEANOR HALL: What is the relationship between the Uighur people there and the Chinese authorities?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Well, it is not such a great relationship you would have to say. I mean when
people dealing with the police, they are doing it, I suppose with suspicion because they know that
the police think that they are possibly members of these extremist groups who are capable of
killing police or others to try and achieve independence. So on both sides there is real suspicion
and you would have to say the relationship is not great.

ELEANOR HALL: And what are authorities there saying about the likelihood of the violence
continuing?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Well, I mean, they are making clear that it looks like the Olympics has been the
catalyst for this violence.

Now, um, as long as the Olympic Games is continuing, then it looks like there will be other
possibilities of this happening.

Now as you mentioned, in just eight days, we have had more than 31 people killed and a series of
suicide bombings and subsequent shoot-outs with the police and also, just this most recent event
when someone pulled up at a roadblock and stabbed and killed three security personnel. So look, as
long as the Olympic Games is going on, if the pattern continues, it seems there will be more
killing.

ELEANOR HALL: And you have tried to reach the scene of that most recent attack?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Yes, we left the city and tried to move through the road blocks to get to where
this recent attack happened but I mean in the first place, our drivers were petrified in terms of
going there because they are worried, these local drivers, that they will be somehow seen as
involved by the police and they could be thrown in jail.

Now when we finally reached these roadblocks, the police have just said, no, no foreign reporter is
going anywhere near this. And so we have been able to travel around the area but not specifically
to that location. There is a massive security and police presence on the roads all around Kashgar.

ELEANOR HALL: And Stephen, is there any excitement at all about the Olympic Games being held in
China?

STEPHEN MCDONELL: Well, people are still watching the Games. I mean, we walked through, past a few
cafes and saw people having their lunch and watching television and seeing that it is on. But
unfortunately because it has been a catalyst for such misery around here, I think for many people
they are probably waiting for it all to finish and sort of hoping that the violence might stop and
that the security crackdown might be lessened.

I mean they have got to pass an ID check just to buy petrol.

So it has been quite a sad and miserable time for many locals here but given that, you would have
to say that there are still some people watching it, but not a hell of a lot of interest, I would
have to say.

ELEANOR HALL: Stephen McDonell, thank you. That is our China correspondent, Stephen McDonell in the
city Kashgar in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang.