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Tibet capital rocked by massive anti-China protests


Updated: March 14, 2008, 6:07 PM IST
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Tibet capital rocked by massive anti-China protests
Chinese police have launched a crackdown on the Free Tibet activists.

New Delhi: Protesters in Tibet's capital Lhasa burnt shops and vehicles and shouted slogans for independence on Friday as the region was hit by its biggest protests for nearly two decades.

Tibetan groups claimed that the Chinese police has launched a crackdown on the Free Tibet activists. According to the official news agency, Xinhua, the protesters set fire to several stores in central Lhasa and targetted shops owned by the Chinese.

Witnesses said a number of shops were set on fire and report from China's Xinhua news agency said the Tromsikhang Market in central Lhasa was also in flames.

An eyewitness told CNN that more than 1000 protestors gathered in the central Barkhor square and chanted slogans. Police fired tear-gas to disperse the crowds enraged by a suicide attempt by two monks a few days ago.

Rallies by monks have continued through the week, in what campaign groups say are the largest protests against Beijing's rule in 20 years. The Chinese government says they are an attempt to disrupt peace ahead of Beijing Olympics, scheduled for July this year.

Peaceful street marches by Tibetan Buddhist monks over previous days gave way to bigger scenes of violence and resentment in the remote, mountainous region on Friday when the protesters turned violent and started burning cars, motorbikes and buses.

Chinese rule in Tibet has become a focus for critics in the run-up to the Games with global marches this week to mark the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Communist rule spilling into Tibet itself.

Those marches apparently emboldened Buddhist monks to march down Lhasa's streets, defying a heavy police presence and reports of lockdowns on several monasteries, Reuters reported quoting sources in Lhasa.

On Friday, 300 to 400 residents and monks demonstrated in Lhasa, a source cited a witness as saying, capping a week of daily protests led by the Buddhist clergy

According to reports, more than 10 monks had been arrested and tanks were patrolling the square near the Potala Palace, the architectural wonders of the world once the winter residence of Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

First Published: March 14, 2008, 6:07 PM IST
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