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Kyrgyzstan Uyghur Leaders Detained After Protest

Ethnic Uyghur women grab at a riot police officer as they protest in Urumqi in China's far west Xinjiang Province in July
BISHKEK (Reuters) -- Kyrgyzstan police have detained two Uyghur community leaders after they accused China of "state terrorism" at a rally and called for an independent investigation of last month's clashes in neighboring Xinjiang.

About 500 Uyghurs gathered at a building on the outskirts of the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek on August 10 with photographs posted to the walls showing what they said was abuse of their kinfolk in China.

The pictures portrayed people being beaten up and held at gunpoint, as well as depicting unconscious or dead people lying in the streets.

In Xinjiang's worst ethnic unrest in decades, Uyghurs staged protests in the regional capital Urumqi on July 5 after two Uyghurs were killed in a clash at a factory in south China in June.

The violence left 197 people dead and more than 1,600 wounded, mostly Han Chinese who launched revenge attacks in Urumqi days later, according to the Chinese government.

About 1,000 people, mostly Uyghurs, have been detained in a government crackdown.

"The Chinese started mass pogroms on June 26, scores of people have been killed, but the Chinese government is concealing those facts," Dilmurat Akbarov, the head of local Uyghur society Ittipak [Unity], told a meeting.

"We demand that those responsible are punished."

People in the crowd chanted "Freedom to Uyghurs" and banners reading "We accuse China of state terrorism against the Uyghur people" hung on the walls.

The police did not interfere but detained Akbarov and his deputy Zhamaldin Nasyrov after the protest was over.

Kyrgyzstan's ombudsman Tursunbek Akun, who was present at the rally, told reporters Akbarov and Nasyrov were held for staging a rally not sanctioned by the government.