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China raises toll from riots

URUMQI, China – China raised the death toll from riots in its Xinjiang region to 184, state media said today, giving an ethnic breakdown of the dead for the first time after communal violence broke out in this far western city.

The official Xinhua News Agency said 137 of the victims belonged to the dominant Han ethnic group. The rest included 45 men and one woman who were Muslim Uighurs, and one man of the Hui Muslim ethnic group, the report said, citing the information office of the regional government.

The previous death toll was 156.

Protests continued Friday after a Muslim woman began complaining that the public washrooms were closed at a crowded mosque – the most important day of the week for Islamic worship. Muslims perform required ablutions, or washing, before prayer.

When a group gathered around her on the sidewalk, Madina Ahtam then railed against communist rule in Xinjiang.

The 26-year-old businesswoman eventually led the crowd of mostly men in a fist-pumping street march that was quickly blocked by riot police, some with automatic rifles pointed at the protesters.

More than 1,400 men in the Muslim Uighur minority have been rounded up by police since ethnic rioting broke out July 5.

The violence came as the Uighurs were protesting the June 25 deaths of Uighur factory workers in a brawl in southern China.