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Fiery death of Tibetan monk sparks protests: Activists

March 20, 2011

WASHINGTON Mar 17, 2011 (AFP) - A YOUNG Tibetan monk set himself on fire and died triggering protests in Tibet on Wednesday, marking the third anniversary of violent anti-government riots there, an activist group said.

Police tried to extinguish the fire when a monk, called Phuntsog, set himself ablaze, but Tibetan exiles in contact with people in the Ngaba region said they then beat the 21-year-old who died.

The monk's body was taken back to the Kirti monastery and protests flared involving hundreds of monks and civilians, the International Campaign for Tibet said in a statement. Police broke up the demonstrations, arresting an unknown number of monks, the activist group alleged.

'I was told that many of the monks at Kirti monastery would rather die than allow Phuntsog's dead body to be passed onto the Chinese authorities,' a monk from the monastery who lives in exile in Dharamsala, India, told the campaign.

'Now, the whole monastery of Kirti is surrounded by armed Chinese military and I am told that some phone connections have been cut.'

It was the second time that a Kirti monk had set fire to himself since the crackdown imposed after the 2008 demonstrations, in which hundreds of monks marched in Lhasa demanding independence for the region, sparking days of unrest. Parts of the city were burned and looted, and the violence then spread to neighbouring areas. -- AFP

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