China admits Tibet riots spread

From CNN – Tibet’s spiritual leader Thursday said he was powerless to stop anti-Chinese violence as authorities in Beijing acknowledged for the first time that unrest had spread into neighboring Chinese provinces.

The official Xinhua News Agency said there were “riots in Tibetan-inhabited areas in the provinces of Sichuan and Gansu.” Both provinces neighbor Tibet. The Xinhua report blamed the incidents on supporters of the Dalai Lama.

On Thursday, Xinhua quoted police as saying officers opened fire and wounded four rioters “out of self-defense” on Sunday in what it called “Tibetan-inhabited Aba County in southwestern Sichuan Province.”

The reports came several days after a number of “Free Tibet” groups posted accounts and pictures of violence in those provinces on their Web pages.

The number of people killed in the violence remained in dispute.

The Tibetan government-in-exile said at least 80 people were killed by police, but local authorities — and Xinhua — said only 13 people died.

On Wednesday, new video suggested that security forces in Tibet had yet to gain control of Tibet and neighboring provinces which have suffered eruptions of anti-Chinese violence since last week.

Film of a crowd — some on horseback — attempting to storm a government building has been shot by a Canadian television crew that managed to gain access to a Chinese town in Gansu province despite attempts by Chinese authorities to keep foreign media away from the region. Video Watch Tibetan protesters charge on horseback »

After they were repelled, villagers ran to a nearby school where they tore up a Chinese flag and replaced it with the Tibetan flag. That section of Gansu province is part of historical Tibet, but it is not inside what is now known as the Tibetan Autonomous Region.

Chinese authorities have arrested dozens of people and nearly 200 more surrendered to police for their admitted involvement in the deadly violence, Xinhua reported.

Tibetan monks at a monastery in Sichuan province sent word to exiled monks in Dharamsala, India, that two monks were arrested after they e-mailed photographs of monks killed in protests to the news media. Internet and phone service has since been interrupted to the Amdo Ngaba Kirti Monastery in Ngaba County, the exiles told CNN.

The Dalai Lama has threatened to quit as head of Tibet’s government-in-exile in Dharamsala if the violence by Tibetans spirals out of control. He also warned of the consequences of any attempts to push for independence from China.

He met Wednesday with leaders of several Tibetan activist groups, including younger activists who demand Tibetan independence and hope to derail the 2008 Beijing Olympics

The Dalai Lama, who calls for “meaningful autonomy” and supports the Olympics, said Thursday that he will suffer the consequences of the protesters’ actions.

“I have no authority. I have no power to tell the movement to shut up,” the Dalai Lama said during an hour-and-40 minute briefing at his headquarters in Dharamsala.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Wednesday that Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao promised him he would be ready to talk with the Dalai Lama if the religious leader renounces violence and demands for Tibetan independence. Photo Click here for gallery of global protests.

It was not immediately clear if this meant the Chinese leader was ready to start that dialogue anytime soon. The Dalai Lama has repeatedly said he is not calling for Tibet’s independence from China, but wanted “genuine autonomy.”

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice rang Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to urge restraint. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said: “She was able to reiterate… our views urging Chinese restraint in dealing with protesters, that nobody wants to see violence, violence doesn’t achieve anything in these situations.”

White House press secretary Dana Perino said President Bush has no plans to cancel his trip to China for the Olympics in Beijing this August. She said he would attend to enjoy the sports — not engage in politics.

The head of the Beijing Olympics said efforts by Tibetan activists to promote an international boycott of the Summer Games are “doomed to failure.” He also rejected demands by Tibetan activists that the Olympic torch relay be routed away from Tibet.

At least 80 people were reportedly arrested in Nepal in anti-China protests near the United Nations building in Kathmandu.

In a statement Thursday, the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the government of Nepal should “cease arbitrary arrests and detentions, harassment, and the use of excessive force to silence Tibetan protesters, activists and journalists.”

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