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Clashes leave 10 dead in Tibet

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Xinhua reports ten people killed in riots
  • Witness describes gunfire, tear gas, vehicles and shops on fire
  • Rioters appeared to target Han Chinese, witness tells CNN
  • Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, calls for calm, dialogue
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NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Violent protests in the Tibetan capital Lhasa have left at least 10 people dead as protesters calling for an end to Chinese rule in the region planned more demonstrations in India and Tibet.

Tibetans throw stones at army vehicles as a car burns on a street in the capital Lhasa.

Quoting the Tibetan government, China's state-run Xinhua news agency said 10 were killed in Lhasa Friday after police blocked a march by monks, sparking the violence.

"The victims are all innocent civilians, and they have been burnt to death," an official with the regional government told Xinhua.

Indian police surrounded the Tibetan community in old Delhi Friday, effectively sealing it to prevent anyone from going in or out after a Friday night protest, a spokesman for the Tibetan Youth Congress told CNN.

Police arrested 61 people at the protest Friday night, including four who demonstrated at the Chinese embassy, said Youth Congress spokesman Komchok Yarphel.

Yarphel also said that protesters planned to restart a march from the northern Indian city of Dharmsala to the Tibet border that was forcibly stopped Thursday by Indian authorities. Those 100 protesters have been jailed for 14 days, but Yarphel said another 100 will begin the march from Dehra, where the first attempt ended after only three days and 75km.

Police have banned the march and are likely to stop it again.

The protesters planned to reach the border for a confrontation with Chinese authorities in time for the opening of the Beijing Olympics in August.

Dharmsala is home to the Tibetan exile government and the Dalai Lama.

Meanwhile, five days of protests in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa turned violent late Friday, and at least 10 people were killed, the state-run Chinese news agency Xinhua reported, quoting the Tibetan government.

Those protests began Monday when hundreds of monks rallied on the 49th anniversary of a failed uprising against Beijing that forced the Dalai Lama into exile.

Police used gunfire and tear gas to quell the Lhasa protest, according to witnesses, human rights groups and Xinhua.

Demonstrators set fire to vehicles and shops. One source said late Friday that up to a third of the city may be on fire and that power lines had been cut.

A main market in Lhasa, Tromsikhang Market, was set on fire, said Kate Saunders, a spokeswoman for the International Campaign for Tibet. The market has many Chinese traders, and she said Tibetans have been concerned about the influx of Chinese into the area.

Some ethnic Tibetan shopkeepers hung scarves outside their stores in an effort to spare them from the protesters' wrath, a witness reported.

Chinese bloggers and U.S.-based human rights groups said Chinese security forces had sealed off the three main monasteries around Lhasa after the violence broke out. The bloggers also said police wearing armored vests were moving toward Lhasa in armored personnel carriers.

Beijing is hosting the Summer Olympics in August, and Tibetan exile groups told CNN they plan to hold demonstrations when the torch is carried through India in April.

The protests had been largely peaceful until Friday, when monks from Ramoche Temple on the north side of Lhasa attempted to march to the capital, rights groups said.

Chinese police blocked them, at which point laypeople joined the protest and began lashing out at Chinese authorities, the rights groups said.

One witness said about 1,000 people hurled rocks and concrete at Chinese security forces, demolishing military trucks and pushing back riot police.

Ethnic Tibetans then turned their anger to shops, market stalls and vehicles owned by Han Chinese, the predominant ethnic group in China, the witness said. A Han girl who spoke to CNN from Lhasa said she was in the hospital after being beaten by a group of Tibetans.

Because of the extreme difficulties in getting news reports from Tibet, it was impossible to independently verify how many people were hurt in Friday's violence.

Tibet is one of two provinces in China, along with Xinjiang, where the Chinese government places restrictions on reporters' access. Government permission is required for foreign media to enter Tibet and Xinjiang.

CNN sought permission to enter Tibet on Friday, but the permission had not been granted by Friday evening Beijing time. CNN reporting on Tibet was being blacked out Friday in mainland China.

Chinese authorities blamed the Dalai Lama for the unrest, but the Dalai Lama said the protesters were simply acting out of "deep-rooted resentment" of the Chinese government.


"As I have always said, unity and stability under brute force is at best a temporary solution. It is unrealistic to expect unity and stability under such a rule and would therefore not be conducive to finding a peaceful and lasting solution," he said in a written statement.

"I therefore appeal to the Chinese leadership to stop using force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue with the Tibetan people. I also urge my fellow Tibetans not to resort to violence." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Sara Sidner and Tess Eastment contributed to this report.

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

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