Chinese officials said the people responsible for the outbreak of unrest in Urumqi (Xinjiang) on 5 July had been identified and arrest warrants will be issued soon so that the violent elements can be severely punished, the Beijing News reported on Friday.

The detection screen of the suspects responsible for July 5 riot has come to an end, Hasimu Mamuti, Chief Prosecutor of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Regions said on Thursday. He added that arrest warrants will be issued soon so that the violent elements can be severely punished, and people who were found innocent had been released gradually, the Beijing News reported.

however, the city of Urumqi is still patrolled by thousands of soldiers and tensions remain high as fear grips residents, scaring many away from Friday prayers in their local mosque, the AsiaNews reported.

Chinese officials vowed last week severe punishment for the mob in the deadliest riot since New China was founded in 1949, while international organizations had urged restraint in China.

Li Zhi, the highest-ranking Party official in Urumqi, was cited as saying that those found guilty of the most serious crimes might even be executed. He added however that many of the rioters didn't understand what they were doing and would thus be treated leniently.

According to state media, more than 1,400 people were detained last week in connection with the riot.

The clashes claimed at least 197 lives as of 18:00 pm by July 16, with 1,721 people sent to hospital, according to official sources. A total of 331 shops and 627 vehicles were also burnt in the unrest, with direct economic losses up to 6.895 million yuan.

As three armed Uyghurs, two of whom were shot dead on the spot and one injured by police, were blamed for inciting worshippers in a mosque to start a holy war recently, Muslim Uyghurs on Friday have been told to go home and avoid creating large gatherings, as AsiaNews reported.

Mosques run by another local ethno-religious minority, the Hui Muslim community, were closed.

An Al-Qaeda branch in North Africa threatened to take revenge on oversea Chinese in Algeria for the deaths of Muslim Uygurs in July 5 violence.

The threat was taken seriously as Beijing immediately alerted its diplomatic missions to take greater security measures, as the Islamist group ambushed a convoy of Algerian security forces protecting Chinese engineers, killing 24 Algerians, three weeks ago .