But local officials appeared to partially relax the ban on Friday afternoon, allowing shortened prayer services after hundreds of Uighur worshippers gathered outside at least two of Urumqi’s main mosques and pressed to be allowed inside, news agencies reported.
The security clampdown that followed Sunday’s deadly riots remained tight. A small group of about 40 Uighur men and women began a protest march after prayers ended Friday, but were quickly blocked by police forces, The Associated Press reported. Officials later announced a curfew would be re-imposed on the city Friday evening. The city’s main bus station was filled with people trying to flee the unrest, news services said.
Meanwhile, in another large Xinjiang city, the ancient Silk Road oasis town of Kashgar, foreign journalists and other visitors were instructed to leave.
Strictly enforced security was clearly high on the government’s agenda, and the People’s Daily, the Communist Party’s official newspaper, said in an editorial Friday that “to maintain social stability, we need to isolate and crack down hard on a handful of people.” The paper said those who “masterminded, organized and committed serious violence during the riot” should be targeted.