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Tanks on streets of Lhasa: witnesses

March 16, 2008

Beijing, March 15 (AFP): Tanks and other military vehicles were on the
streets of Lhasa on Saturday amid a heavy security clampdown following
violent riots in the Tibetan capital, witnesses told AFP by phone.

"There are many armed police, special police and People's Liberation
Army soldiers everywhere in the streets of Lhasa today," said a
Chinese resident speaking to AFP by phone who declined to give his
name.

"I saw tanks and armored personnel carriers patrolling the streets.
They block every intersection to check vehicles."

A receptionist at a hotel in a different part of Lhasa said she and
many guests at the establishment had also seen tanks and other
military vehicles.

Freedom of movement in the tense capital had also been severely
restricted, she added.

"We cannot go out and nobody can come in the hotel. All hotels near
the (riot area) are blocked off," said the woman.

"All stores have been closed and people are not allowed to go out to
the street. We don't know what is happening outside because we have
been asked by police to stay in the hotel since yesterday."

China's Xinhua news agency said seven people had died in the biggest
protests in Tibet in two decades, most of them business people.

A brief dispatch by Xinhua news agency also said that "Lhasa city has
reverted to calm."

The unrest came amid a growing international campaign by Tibetans to
challenge Beijing's rule of the Himalayan region ahead of the Olympic
Games in August.
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