By Zehra Nur Duz
ANKARA (AA) – Protests were held in a number of cities on late Saturday against China’s strict coronavirus pandemic policy amid a deadly fire in the western Xinjiang region, according to local media.
In Shanghai, police used pepper spray to block hundreds of demonstrators who had gathered at Middle Urumqi Road at midnight, the South China Morning Post daily reported.
The protesters carried flowers, candles and signs reading “Urumqi, Nov. 24, those who died rest in peace” to remember those killed in Xinjiang’s capital city Urumqi.
At least 10 people were killed and nine others injured when a fire broke out in a residential building in Urumqi that was reportedly under a coronavirus lockdown, Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday.
Many claimed that restrictions caused by tough coronavirus measures made the fire worse and took emergency personnel three hours to extinguish the blaze.
Authorities rejected the claims, saying there were no barricades in the building and that residents were allowed to go out.
Earlier on Saturday, authorities in Xinjiang removed restrictions in some districts in Urumqi after local people organized sudden late night protests against the city’s “zero-COVID-19” lockdown policy that had remained in force for over three months.
China, with a population of over 1.4 billion, has confirmed 307,802 COVID-19 cases to date, with the death toll reaching 5,233.