2 former monks set themselves on fire in Sichuan

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One person was dead and the other injured after they set themselves on fire successively in southwest China's Sichuan province Friday, local authorities confirmed Saturday.

A 22-year-old man set himself ablaze at around 1:00 p.m. at a crossroad in Aba county in the Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. Police rushed to put the fire out and sent him to a local hospital, said a spokesman for the county's government.

Another man, who was identified to be 18-year-old, died of self-immolation in a hotel room not far from the crossroad later.

The injured man receiving treatment at the hospital confessed that they conspired the two self-immolation incidents, the spokesman said.

An investigation by the local government showed that the two men were former monks from the Kirti Monastery in the prefecture who have resumed secular life.

They were involved in thefts, with the deceased man being a suspect at large in the case of the Kirti Monastery Buddha statue burglary, according to the investigation.

"The several self-immolation cases recently were committed by people who previously had got punished for their wrongdoings such as whoring, gambling and burglary, or deep in debt because of gambling," said Gang Zheng, a Tibetology expert with the Sichuan Tibetology Research Center.

According to Gang, the Dalai Lama clique had instigated and enticed them to commit self-immolations, taking advantage of their wish to wash away their sins and humiliation.

The Dalai Lama was trying to use this to serve his political purposes, said Yi Fei, another Tibetology expert with the center.

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