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Tibetan Protests Erupt Into Violence

by @ 8:42 am on March 15, 2008. Filed under China, Foreign Affairs, Tibet

It sounds like the protests in Tibet are getting more violent:

BEIJING (AFP) — The Tibetan capital Lhasa erupted in deadly violence Friday as security forces used gunfire to quell the biggest protests against Chinese rule in two decades, officials and rights groups said.

The protests, which spread outside Tibet into other areas of China, came amid a growing international campaign by Tibetans to challenge Beijing’s rule of the Himalayan region ahead of the Olympic Games in August.

Several people lost their lives and many others were injured in Lhasa on Friday, an official at the city’s medical emergency centre told AFP, with Radio Free Asia reporting at least two people had been killed by Chinese bullets.

(…)

More than 100 Buddhist monks kicked off the protests early Friday, which quickly attracted hundreds of other Tibetans and saw one of the biggest markets in Lhasa as well as cars set ablaze, foreign tourists and rights groups said.

At least 900 people rioted in Lhasa, and more than 1,000 security forces were sent in to quell the unrest, the London-based Free Tibet Campaign said, citing Tibetans in the city.

The official at the medical emergency centre in Lhasa said staff were overwhelmed by the number of victims.

“We are very busy with the injured people now — there are many people injured here. Definitely some people have died, but I don’t know how many,” a female official at the centre said by phone.

While they obviously have the upper hand here, Chinese leaders no doubt realize that they are in a delicate position here. They can’t risk alienating the world community by cracking down hard on the Tibetans with only five months to go before Summer Olympic Games that are intended to signal China’s arrival to the world.

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