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Where Phantoms Live

Vishal Singh paces nervously around his family's stucco home in Bartica, a town in northern Guyana overlooking the Essequibo River. A few months earlier, gunmen under cover of night had ambushed the community, an outpost for gold and diamond miners operating in the country's wild interior. The bandits robbed two gold trading stations, including one run by Singh's father in their home. The family survived by escaping to a fortified hiding place. Afterwards the Singhs fled town. Only Vishal has returned.

China Cracking Down on Muslim Minority Uighurs

Following a spate of political violence, security has been so tight around here that a 25-year-old Muslim jade dealer agreed to talk to a reporter only if they met 20 miles outside this historic Silk Road town in remote northwestern China.

"I wanted to study teachings like the Hadith," said the man who identified himself only as Hussein, referring to a collection of the prophet Muhammad's sayings. "I'm too old now. It makes me sad."

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.

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.