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Olympics Checkpoints in Northwest China

Since the August 4th attack in Kashgar that killed 16 Chinese police officers, officials have intensified security measures all over Xinjiang. Militia and troops from the People's Liberation Army man checkpoints on all major roads in and out of Kashgar.

Wedding Drums in Kashgar

Enhanced security measures on the streets of Kashgar have not stopped young couples from tying the knot. On Thursdays and Fridays and through the weekend, caravans of newly-weds troll the streets of this ancient city in everything from taxis to limos. Musicians in flatbed trucks lead the way and announce the couples to Kashgar in a chorus of drumbeats and trumpet blasts. Amidst the simmering violence, the rituals of life and relationships continue.

Hotan's Jade Trade

Jade, a precious stone commonly used by Han Chinese as an amulet, has transformed the Silk Road city of Hotan into a major commercial center in China's restive northwest region of Xinjiang. Major protests rocked Hotan earlier this year when 500 Uyghur women demonstrated to demand greater self-determination for China's largest Muslim minority group.

Business as Usual on the Silk Road

Kashgar's claim to fame is its spot on the Silk Road. These days, textiles, jade, camels and cows still get bought and sold all over Xinjiang's bustling bazaars, though it's the province's abundant natural gas, oil, and coal deposits that make it truly rich in the eyes of foreign investors and the Chinese government. For locals, however, it's still about the basic consumer items. I went to one of Kashgar's most important historical marketplaces, the Sunday Bazaar and Animal Market-, today to see the bedrock of the local economy in action.

Kashmir Activists Don't See Guns as the Answer

When pro-independence demonstrations erupted in Kashmir over the summer, Danish Shervani said he hesitated to take part until he saw women and children shouting in the streets.

His initiation was painful. A band of riot police trapped him away from the crowds and beat him with bamboo shafts, breaking several bones and shattering a kneecap.

After the Fast

After a long, hot summer of protests against Indian rule, an uneasy calm descended on the Kashmir valley for the holy month of Ramadan. In a bid to reignite mass protests, separatist leaders had called for another pro-independence march this week on Lal Chowk, the commercial hub of the summer capital. The authorities responded with a two-day, shoot-on-sight curfew. Protests were abandoned. After a crackdown over the past few months that has left at least 45 people dead, mostly killed when troops opened fire on crowds, this was understandable.

War in the Heart of India

"Ram, Ram, oh Ram," Chandan whispered to himself, moments after asking me to pray to my own God. He and Arvind, the other local journalist who accompanied me into the bush, held their heads down and closed their eyes, not wanting to accept the random turn of events, the prospect of a grim and pointless death.

China: My Washington Post Photo

I wasn't sure if I could cough up any editorial interest in my Uyghur photographs before coming to Xinjiang. Dozens of journalists had rushed out to Kasghar the day after the Aug. 4th attack to try to cover the China's Islamic separatists, or so they thought. I didn't even get my visa to China till Aug. 14th so was a little late in the game even though I had been wanting to go there since 2004.

China: Wedding Drums and Uyghur Hospitality

Before heading out to Xinjiang, a western journalist told me that Uyghurs would hold off on getting married until the security situation improved. Large group gatherings tended to arouse curious eyes. With fewer eyes on people's homes, the safer Chinese Muslims felt.

China: The Water Terrorist

I thought it was only the US that was still paranoid about water on airplanes. Apparently, China is even more afraid of liquid bombs than George Bush.

I got a pretty nerve-wracking introduction to the consequences of breaking the rigid rules of Chinese security on my flight to Kashgar.