China will boost police forces in Muslim Uighur region, state media said on Monday, in an attempt to control religious activities in the region.
Authorities will recruit 8,000 new police officers to augment police ranks in villages and rural areas, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
"Security patrols, management of the migrant population and cracking down on illegal religious activities" will be among their main duties, Xinhua said, citing an unnamed Communist Party spokesman in the region what China calls "Xinjiang" but Uighurs say "East Turkestan".
Analysts say China's Communist Party is tightening controls over society and fending off political challenges around the country ahead of a top leadership handover late this year.
In July 2009, Uighurs rioted against Han Chinese residents in Urumqi, the regional capital after an attack in a Chinese factory. At least 197 people were killed the conflict, according to official estimates.
China courts in September sentenced four Muslim Uighurs to death for violence in two cities over the summer in which 32 people were killed.
The government blamed the incidents in Kashgar and Hotan -- both in the majority Uighur southern part of Xinjiang -- on pro-independence people who want to establish an independent state called East Turkestan for their people.
China's ruling Communist Party says it protects freedom of religion, but it maintains a tight grip on religious activities and allows only officially recognised religious institutions to operate.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Ocak 2012, 13:37