BEIJING – Fourteen people were killed and 10 injured in a stampede at a mosque in China's Northwest Ningxia region, state media reported on Monday, January 6.
"The investigation is still underway. We have nothing to reveal," a man at the Xiji county, around 280 kilometers (174 miles) south of the regional capital Yinchuan, police surnamed Wang told Agence France Presse (AFP).
According to the official Xinhua news agency, the stampede occurred at lunchtime on Sunday while traditional food, or cakes, was being handed out to people attending an event to commemorate a late religious leader.
The incident is said to have occurred at about 13:00 local time (05:00 GMT) on Sunday.
The injured were hospitalized, with four in critical condition, the brief report said.
A few hours later, photos for the victims were posted online by Chinese news outlets.
One photo showed six bodies laid out side-by-side inside a building, with several children in colorful outfits among the dead.
"Those poor children," wrote one poster.
Another said: "Are Chinese people so poor, for all this to happen over a piece of pastry?"
Some Internet users displayed images of red candles online to commemorate those who died.
Other pictures posted online showed a large crowd, most of them men and many wearing white Islamic caps, standing outside the green mosque, apparently after the incident.
Clothes and shoes were scattered on the ground, along with what appeared to be a collapsed section of scaffolding.
Ningxia, in northern China, is home to the Chinese-speaking Hui minority, who are mostly Muslim but distinct from the Uighurs of Xinjiang.
According to government statistics, the semi-desert region's six million Hui make up about 36 per cent of its population, with Xiji one of the major Hui population centres.
Ningxia, on the upper reaches of the Yellow river, was the scene of a Muslim rebellion in the 19th century but has no recent history of ethnic tensions or other strife between the Hui and China's Han majority.
According to official data, China has 20 million Muslims, most of them are concentrated in Xinjiang, Ningxia, Gansu, and Qinghai regions and provinces.
More than 2.25 million Hui live in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, accounting for more than one-third of the total population of the region.
Smaller Muslim communities can also be found throughout interior China.Unofficially, Muslim groups say the number is even higher, stating that there are from 65-100 million Muslims in China — up to 7.5 percent of the population.
Related Links:China Muslims Keep Hold of Faith
Eroding Uighur Identity
‘Record’ Chinese Muslims Embark on Hajj
China Stifles Uighur Muslims on Religion
Uighur Muslims Want China Killings Probe