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Lhasa riot causes heavy losses, disturbing social order
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The riot in Lhasa last Friday caused heavy losses of life and property, and seriously disturbed social order, the head of the regional government said on Monday.

Qiangba Puncog, chairman of Tibet Autonomous Regional Government, told a news briefing in Beijing that rioters in the regional capital set fires at more than 300 locations, including homes and 214 shops, and smashed and burned 56 vehicles.

Thirteen innocent civilians were burned or stabbed to death, he said, citing two cases of what he described as brutality.

In one case, a civilian was reportedly doused with gasoline by rioters and burned to death. In another case, rioters beat a patrol policeman unconscious, and then cut a piece of flesh from his buttocks.

Sixty-one members of the armed police, who were instructed not to use force, were also injured, including six who were critically ill.

The unrest was "organized" and "premeditated" by the Dalai Lama clique, he said.

Since March 10, more than 300 monks from the Zhaibung Monastery ventured into downtown Lhasa. The monks, who were supposedly adherents of peace, were aggressive, and flagrantly confrontational with the security forces.

In the Sera Monastery, 10 monks held up flags of the so-called Tibetan exile government and shouted "Tibetan independence". In the ensuing days, some monks chanted independence slogans and challenged officers who were maintaining order, he said

In attempts to create sensation, three monks in the Zhaibung monastery lacerated their bodies with knives and took pictures of one another, and blaming others for the harm they inflicted upon themselves, police sources said.

Rioters on Friday set off a destructive rampage, setting fire to buildings, police cars and private vehicles and looting banks, schools and shops, said police sources.

"Most of Friday's violence took place in the commercial streets of Bargor, Linkuo, Sera and the Ngaqen Road, Second Ring Road and Beijing Middle Road in downtown area of Lhasa," said Qiangba.

The No. 2 Lhasa Middle School, the Haicheng Primary School and the Chomsigkang Market were targeted by rioters, who smashed, stoned, looted and committed arson, he said.

A branch of the Bank of China, outlets of China Mobile, the Lhasa Branch of the Xinhua News Agency, the office of Tibet Daily and a number of government offices were attacked by vandals, the regional government chairman said.

(Xinhua News Agency, March 17, 2008)


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