Hundreds of Tibetans, monks attack police station

March 22nd, 2009 - 8:56 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, March 22 (DPA) Police detained nearly 100 people after hundreds of monks and lay Tibetans attacked a police station in China’s western province of Qinghai, state media and Tibetan exiles said Sunday.
Several hundred people, including about 100 monks from the Ragya monastery, attacked the Gyala township police station in Qinghai’s remote Golok (Guoluo) prefecture, Xinhua news agency said.

Police were questioning six people arrested after the attack and 89 others who surrendered, the agency quoted local official Ju Kezhong as saying.

Ninety-three of those under detention were monks from Ragya, and police were still searching for other monks who fled after the attack, it said.

The pro-Tibetan independence website quoted local sources as telling the Voice of Tibet radio station that some 2,000 people took part in the protest, which was sparked by the suicide of a monk after he escaped from police custody Saturday.

The website reported that protesters carried a Tibetan national flag and banners into the town after they heard news of the death.

It said the protesters chanted slogans such as “independence for Tibet” and “Long Live the Dalai Lama”.

Police arrested Zhaxi Sangwu Friday after they claimed to have found a Tibetan national flag and political leaflets in his room, it said.

Xinhua quoted officials as saying the attackers were “deceived by rumours about Zhaxi Sangwu”, who escaped from the police station after his arrest Friday for “advocating ‘Tibet independence’”.

The agency said Zhaxi Sangwu escaped from the police station while he was using the toilet Saturday afternoon, but it did not say what happened to him afterwards.

Phayul said he jumped into a river following his escape from police custody.

The attack is the biggest in a series of mostly small protests and other incidents reported in Tibetan areas of China around last week’s 50th anniversary of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule.

Xinhua said the attackers “assaulted policemen and government staff” Saturday, causing minor injuries to some of them.

Most of Tibetans left the police station by 5 p.m. Saturday but about 30 remained there until the early hours of Sunday, it quoted Golok prefecture officials as saying.

Paramilitary police have sealed off almost all Tibetan areas of China to foreign journalists and tourists for more than one week while the government has tightened border security and cut off some text messaging and other mobile telephone services in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas.

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