China calls on members of Party to quell violence

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China's leaders vowed to maintain stability in the west of the country yesterday in their first public comments on the ethnic riots that killed more than 150 people. Later, 8,000 troops took part in a show of force, marching through an area of the Xinjiang province's capital that was among the worst hit by the violence.

The Politburo Standing Committee, led by President Hu Jintao, called on Communist Party members to mobilise to restore order. The committee promised punishment for rioters and leniency to those who took part after being misled by agitators.

In the parade, police were crammed into trucks and armoured personnel carriers and helicopters circled above. Vans with loudspeakers blared slogans like "Protect the people" and "Maintain stability".

With the city seemingly under control, the next test for the government will come today when large numbers of Muslim Uighurs gather for their weekly prayers.