BEIJING - China ratcheted up pressure on exiled Uighur activist Rebiya Kadeer on Monday, saying two of her children and her brother had written letters condemning their mother for orchestrating last month's ethnic riots.
China has repeatedly blamed Kadeer, once a successful businesswoman who now lives in exile in the United States, for triggering the deadly July unrest in the strategic and energy-rich northwestern region of Xinjiang.
Because of you, many innocent people of all ethnic groups lost their lives in Urumqi on July 5, with huge damage of properties, shops and vehicles, Xinhua news agency quoted one of the letters as saying.
Xinhua said the letter explicitly blamed Kadeer and the exiled World Uyghur Congress, which she leads, for the unrest.
Kadeer, 62, has denied all the allegations made by the Chinese government against her.
In Xinjiang's worst ethnic violence in decades, Uighurs attacked Han Chinese in the regional capital of Urumqi after police tried to break up a protest against fatal attacks on Uighur workers at a factory in south China.
The official death toll from the riots stands at 197, most of whom were Han who form the majority of China's 1.3 billion population. Almost all the others were Uighurs, a Muslim people native to Xinjiang and culturally tied to Central Asia.
Since the rioting security forces have foiled five planned attacks in Xinjiang, arrested a group of suspected terrorists, and seized weapons including guns, knives and explosives, Xinhua also reported on Monday.
Plots were broken up in the cities of Urumqi, Kashgar, Aksu and Yili, Xinhua said, citing counter-terrorism agencies.
The 'East Turkestan' terrorists have been on the point of stirring up trouble, colluding in darkness, and plotting to carry out terrorist attacks on the innocent masses, Xinhua said.
It gave no details of how many people had been arrested or how the security forces got wind of the plots.
EXILES SAY LETTERS FAKE
Xinhua said the letters were written by Kadeer's son, Khahar, and daughter Roxingul, along with younger brother Memet.
Reuters was not able to verify the letters' authenticity or confirm that they were written voluntarily. But Dilxat Raxit, a spokesman for the World Uyghur Congress, said they were fake.
It's not possible that one of her family members would write such a letter, he said by telephone.
Kadeer has 11 children. Five of her children and nine grandchildren live in Xinjiang.
Some of Kadeer's children still in Xinjiang have been jailed or held under house arrest for years. Her eldest son, Khahar or Kahar, was fined and forced to liquidate their mother's business.
Roxingul or Rushangul, was held under house arrest for several months in 2006, after being admitted to hospital with shock after witnessing security forces beat her brothers Ablikim and Alim to prevent them from trying to meet a visiting U.S. Congressional delegation, Amnesty International said at the time.
She and her uncle Memet, or Mamat, were under house arrest again in the lead-up to the Olympic Games, according to the Uyghur Human Rights Project.
Last week, China formally protested Japan's decision to let Kadeer visit Tokyo, as well as Australia's permission for her to visit a film festival in Melbourne, which features a documentary about her life.
Beijing does not want to lose its grip on Xinjiang. The vast territory borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, has abundant oil reserves and is China's largest natural gas-producing region.
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard, Emma Graham-Harrison and Lucy Hornby; Editing by Ken Wills)