March 23, 2009 in Nation/World

China arrests Tibetan monks after protest

Gillian Wong Associated Press

BEIJING – Police arrested six monks while 89 others turned themselves in after hundreds of Tibetans attacked a police station and government officials in northwestern China, state media reported.

All but two of the 95 being investigated Sunday were monks, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The six Tibetans were arrested for their involvement in a violent protest Saturday apparently triggered by the disappearance of a Tibetan who escaped from police custody in Qinghai province, Xinhua said. It was not clear today if the 89 who surrendered were subsequently arrested.

A Tibetan exile said the protest involved as many as 2,000 people and was sparked by the apparent suicide of a monk under investigation for unfurling a Tibetan flag.

Xinhua said several hundred people – including nearly 100 monks from the Ragya Monastery – attacked the police station in Ragya, a township in the Tibetan prefecture of Golog, on Saturday, assaulting policemen and government staff.

Some officials were injured slightly in the assault, Xinhua said, without elaborating.

A man who answered the phone at Qinghai’s public security department said he had not heard about the attack or the arrests. Phone calls to other police departments and government offices in the area rang unanswered.

Security in Tibetan areas has been tightened in recent weeks as Beijing tried to head off trouble ahead of sensitive anniversaries this month. March 14 marked the one-year anniversary of anti-government riots in Lhasa, Tibet’s regional capital, while March 17 marked 50 years since the Dalai Lama escaped into exile in India after Chinese troops crushed the Tibetan revolt.

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