China alerts citizens in Algeria

BEIJING: China issued a heightened security alert to its citizens in Algeria after Al-Qaeda reportedly vowed to avenge the deaths of Muslims killed in ethnic unrest in northwestern Xinjiang region.

"The Chinese Embassy in Algeria is specially calling on Chinese-funded organisations and personnel to raise their security awareness and strengthen security measures," the embassy said in a statement on its website Tuesday.

Such measures should be taken "in view of the situation following the violent criminal incident in Urumqi on July 5," the statement said, without elaborating.

Chinese citizens should immediately report to embassy personnel any "emergency matter" that may arise in Algeria, it said.

According to a report by the London-based risk analysis firm Stirling Assynt, an Algerian Al-Qaeda affiliate has vowed to avenge the deaths of Muslims killed in Xinjiang by targeting Chinese workers in northwest Africa.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese work in the Middle East and North Africa, including 50,000 in Algeria, the report said.

Chinese authorities have said unrest and riots in Xinjiang's capital Urumqi on July 5 left 184 people dead -- most of whom were Han, China's dominant ethnic group -- and more than 1,600 injured.

Ethnic Muslim Uighurs, many of whom have chafed under China's 60-year rule in Xinjiang, have accused Chinese forces of opening fire on peaceful protests, and say the number of people killed is far higher than the official tally.

On Tuesday, the foreign ministry said it would take all necessary measures to protect its overseas interests following the report.

"We will keep a close eye on developments and make joint efforts with relevant countries to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety of overseas Chinese institutions and people," foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters.