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China President Skips G8 Over Xinjiang Unrest

Chinese President Hu Jintao (left, with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, abruptly changed plans amid scenes of prowling groups of armed men in Xinjiang.
URUMQI, China (Reuters) -- Chinese President Hu Jintao has abandoned plans to attend the Group of Eight (G8) head-of-states summit in Italy to return home early to deal with ethnic violence that has left at least 156 dead in China's northwestern region of Xinjiang.

The Foreign Ministry said Hu had left for China due to the "situation" in isolated, energy-rich Xinjiang, where at least 1,080 people have been injured and 1,434 arrested in unrest between Han Chinese and Muslim Uyghurs since July 5.

State Councillor Dai Bingguo will attend the G8 summit in Hu's place, the ministry added.

Urumqi, Xinjiang's regional capital, imposed an overnight curfew after thousands of Han Chinese stormed through its streets demanding redress and sometimes extracting bloody vengeance for violence on July 5.

Life was returning to the streets of Uyghur neighborhoods where fruit and bread sellers were out doing business, but residents said nighttime arrests were continuing and they were quietly preparing to defend against further Han Chinese attacks.