Dalai-backed violence scars Lhasa

Updated: 2008-03-15 08:51

LHASA -- The riot in Lhasa on Friday has left 12 policemen and servicemen of the armed police gravely injured, in addition to deaths of 10 civilians, a Tibet Autonomous Region government official said Saturday evening.

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Two of the injured policemen are critical, said Zhang Yijiong, deputy Party secretary of Tibet Autonomous Region, at an assembly of local officials in Tibet.  

"The sabotage has led to great losses of people's lives and property," Zhang said.

According to preliminary statistics, 22 buildings were set on fire and dozens of police and private vehicles were burnt.

A few vandals carrying backpacks filled with stones and bottles of inflammable liquids smashed windows, set fire to vehicles, shops and restaurants Friday afternoon in a plotted sabotage in the regional capital Friday.

No casualties have been reported among the foreigners in the riots that erupted in Lhasa on Friday, local government said on Saturday.

Witnesses said the unrest started around 1:10 pm on Friday, several people clashed with and stoned the local police around the Ramogia Monastery in downtown Lhasa.

Rioters began gathering around 2 pm around the Ramogia Monastery, and set fire to shops along two main streets in the capital, and around Jokhang Temple, Ramogia Monastery and Chomsigkang Market. At least five blazing spots were reported and dense smoke was seen blanketing the area.

A number of shops, banks and hotels were burnt, causing blackouts and interruption of communications in some areas. Shops close to the Jokhang Temple and Ramogia Monastery were shut down.

A Tibetan government official told Xinhua that there had been enough evidence to prove that the sabotage in Lhasa was "organized, premeditated and masterminded" by the Dalai clique.

The violence, involving beating, smashing, looting and burning, has disrupted the public order and jeopardized people's lives and property, the official said.

Xinhua reporters in Lhasa saw many rioters were carrying backpacks filled with stones and bottles of inflammable liquids, some holding iron bars, wooden sticks and long knifes, a sign that the crowd came fully prepared and meant harm.

The mobs assaulted passersby, sparing no women or children, witnesses said. They hit at things along their path, smashing windows, automatic teller machines and traffic lights. Several clothing shops, restaurants, and mobile phone stores were looted. Bikes, motorcycles and cars were burnt down.

The vandals started burning the local Sifang Supermarket, Landun Shopping Mall and Wenzhou Mall around 3:00 pm Friday, causing more blazing spots. A Muslim mosque was also set on fire at around 8:30 pm.

There were injuries reported in the violence and the wounded were sent to the hospital. People were also seen burnt by the attackers. But death toll is not yet available.


Sources told Xinhua that policemen were ordered not to use force against the attacker. But they were forced to use a limited amount of tear gas and fired warning shots to disperse the desperate crowds.

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