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China confirms new Tibetan riots

April 5, 2008

BBC News
Friday, 4 April 2008

Renewed violence has broken out in a Tibetan area of western China, with
reports of several injuries.

Xinhua news agency said rioters attacked government offices in Garze,
Sichuan province, on Thursday evening, leaving one official seriously hurt.

Tibetan exile groups say security forces fired on crowds of civilians,
killing at least eight people.

The violence comes weeks after unrest swept through Tibetan areas and
Beijing responded with a security crackdown.

Protests were peaceful initially, but later turned violent and ethnic
Chinese were targeted.

Tibetan exile groups say Chinese security forces killed dozens of
protesters. Beijing says about 19 people were killed in rioting.

Foreign media organisations cannot report freely from Tibetan areas, so
it is difficult to confirm facts from the area.

'Warning shots'

The latest Xinhua report states that a government official was "attacked
and seriously wounded" in the Donggu township at about 2000 (1200 GMT)
on Thursday.

"Local officials exercised restraint during the riot and repeatedly told
the rioters to abide by the law," Xinhua quoted an official with the
prefectural government as saying.

"Police were forced to fire warning shots and put down the violence,"
the official added.

A UK-based activist group said eight people had been killed in the
incident - including at least three women and one monk.

Matt Whitticase of the Free Tibet Campaign said Tibetan exiles in India
confirmed that monks had marched on government buildings after two of
them were arrested for having pictures of their spiritual leader, the
Dalai Lama.

More than 350 monks demanded their release and were joined by about 400
lay people, he said.

Security forces opened fire after the demonstration had begun to
disperse, he said.

Chinese authorities have repeatedly blamed the Dalai Lama, who lives in
exile in India, for stirring up unrest. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate
denies the accusations.
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