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Death toll rises in Tibet unrest

Latest update : 2008-03-16

At least 80 people have been killed in the recent clashes between Chinese authorities and Tibetan protesters, the Tibetan government-in-exile said on Sunday. (Report: L. Kammourieh)

Eighty people have died in a wave of unrest and a Chinese crackdown in Tibet, the Himalayan region's exiled government said Sunday.
Tibetan officials in Dharamshala, the base of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, said the 80 "confirmed" dead included 26 people who were shot near a prison in Lhasa.
"Regarding bodies, it's 80. We have 80 unidentified bodies," the spokesman for the government-in-exile, Thubten Samphel, told reporters.
He said the toll had been established from "calls made from Tibet" by witnesses, and added that at least 72 people had been injured.
"At this point of time, we have 80 dead, confirmed," Tenzin Taklha, a close aide to the Dalai Lama, also told AFP -- repeating the figure that is far higher than the 10 deaths reported by Beijing.
He added the dead included people shot outside Drapchi prison in Lhasa on Saturday and five girls. He said there were also unconfirmed reports of three killed in neighbouring Sichuan province and the suicides of five Buddhist monks.
"The majority of the people killed are Tibetans. It's very difficult to verify these things. For example, one person counted 68 other bodies in a morgue, but it's difficult to confirm," Taklha said.
The violence in Tibet and a major Chinese crackdown prompted more furious protests in Dharamshala, with activists nailing hundreds of Chinese flags to the ground for people to walk on..
"China should stop the brutal crackdown and genocide inside Tibet," said Sonam Darjee, a leader of the Tibetan Youth Congress -- a pro-independence group which views the Dalai Lama's call for greater autonomy as not going far enough.
The leader of the group, Tsewang Rigzin, said "people of Tibet are running out of patience" with what has up to now been a mostly non-violent struggle.
"We are witnessing history in Tibet. We have to continue to make history until Tibet is free. Tibet is continuing to resist the Chinese government. We are seeing a global uprising by Tibetans," he said.
"We have to put the spotlight on China when the world is watching. We will continue our struggle until we kick China out from Tibet."
A group of around 70 refugees also began a hunger strike in a temple and under a banner describing China as a "killer of Tibetans and enemy of mankind" and calling for a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
"Tibet is screaming, China is slaying, United Nations is sleeping," another banner read.
"Martial law has been imposed. The Chinese are cracking down, they are arresting, shooting the people. It's a very urgent situation," said the outspoken leader of the Tibetan parliament, Karma Chonphel.
He added that he believed at least 1,000 Tibetans had been killed since protests began on March 10.
Aides to the Dalai Lama have denied any link to the unrest, and the administration has already appealed for United Nations intervention.
Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister in the exiled Tibetan administration, insisted the 72-year-old Nobel laureate was an advocate of a peaceful resolution to the Tibetan question.
"He is apostle of peace, he can never ask anyone to indulge in violence," the 64-year-old prime minister said.
China's official Xinhua news agency on Friday, quoting the local government in Tibet, said the unrest has been "organised, premeditated and masterminded" by the Dalai Lama and his supporters.

Date created : 2008-03-16