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Shops reopen as Lhasa calms
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Many shops were reopened and private cars and taxi cabs were back on the streets on Sunday in Lhasa, as the city returned to calm after Friday's riot.

Reporters at Xinhua's Lhasa branch saw many stores along the western Beijing Road, western Jinzhu Road and southern Linkuo Road open on Sunday afternoon. Taxis and private cars were back on the roads.

Yangzom, a woman of Tibetan ethnicity who lives on western Jinzhu Road, said her life remained largely unaffected by the riot. "Grocery stalls and shops in my neighborhood are still open, " she said.

On the western Beijing Road, a private gas station was also doing business. "The shop opens for the day now, and closes during the night," its owner Wang said.

But most shops in the Old Town area were still closed. Several shops were partially burnt down, while charred wreckages of cars were strewn about some sections of the streets.

Civil servants and local residents took to the streets on Sunday afternoon to clean up the aftermath from the turmoil in the worst-hit areas in downtown Lhasa.

The cleaners swept garbage, shoveled away stones and removed overturned cars, burnt motorcycles and bicycles off streets, all in the Old Town area of the plateau city. Some wore helmets and gloves and were warned of the dangers of building collapse and being hurt by broken glass.

Soi'nam Gyaincain, a worker's union president at the regional electrical company, said more than 100 employees joined in the cleaning. "We all want a clean and orderly city back," he said.

Yangjain, a local Tibetan who helped clean up the trash, said she was appalled by what the lawless mobs did. "They stirred up a decent city and turned it into chaos. They were truly horrible."

Hao Peng, the Tibet Autonomous Region government deputy chairman, said the debris would be cleaned away soon and order restored to the regional capital.

An outburst of commotion broke the peace in Lhasa on Friday afternoon. Sources with the local government said on Saturday that at least 10 people were confirmed dead, mostly civilians who were burned.

The rioters torched buildings for civilian use at 160 places, including banks, a press establishment, shops, schools and hospitals. Dozens of vehicles, including police wagons, were burnt.

Lhasa Mayor Doje Cezhug, who was in Beijing for the annual session of China's top legislature, told reporters on Sunday that, to his knowledge, the city was now calm.

"We didn't enforce martial law there."

He added the unrest was provoked by a handful of monks and lawless persons bent on sabotage.

"These acts are completely targeted at disturbing the happy and stable life of people in Tibet." He added the government was able to maintain stability for the people.

(Xinhua News Agency, March 17, 2008)

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