Thousands of people on Friday tried to flee Urumqi in China’s Xinjiang region after deadly ethnic unrest with many mosques ordered shut for the Muslim day of prayer.
The exodus came as the authorities raised the toll from the violence that erupted on Sunday to more than 180 in the midst of growing international anger, especially in the Islamic world, at the plight of Xinjiang’s Uighurs.
Authorities said they had put on extra bus services out of the regional capital Urumqi, but demand outstripped seats and scalpers told AFP they were charging up to five times the normal price for tickets.
‘It is just too risky to stay here. We are scared of the violence,’ said Xu Qiugen, a 23-year-old construction worker from central China who had been living in Urumqi for five years and had bought a bus ticket out with his wife.