CHINA / Regional
Tibet chairman: Police exercised 'great restraint'
By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-03-18 06:39
Police showed great restraint and used no lethal force in dealing with the riots in Lhasa last Friday, the chairman of the Tibet autonomous regional government said yesterday.
"The riots caused heavy loss of life and property, and seriously disturbed social order," Qiangba Puncog told a news briefing in Beijing.
Thirteen innocent civilians were burned or stabbed to death, he said, adding that calm had returned to Lhasa.
On Friday, violence involving physical assault, destruction of property, looting and arson broke out in urban Lhasa. Rioters set fires at more than 300 locations, including 214 homes and shops, and smashed and burned 56 vehicles.
In one case, a civilian was doused with gasoline and burned to death by rioters.
Sixty-one members of the armed police were injured, including six critically. Rioters beat a police officer into a coma and cut a fist-size piece of flesh out of his buttock, he said.
Yet "public security personnel and police showed maximum restraint during law enforcement" and "throughout the process, (security forces) did not carry or use any destructive weapons. Only tear gas and water cannons were employed," Qiangba Puncog said.
The regional government immediately organized task forces to put out the fires, rescue the injured and protect hospitals, schools, banks and government offices.
The military was not involved in quelling the riots, but participated in rescue work, he said.
In a notice issued over the weekend, law enforcement agencies promised leniency to rioters who turned themselves in by last night.
Qiangba Puncog underscored the terms of the notice, saying: "If these people provide further information about others involved in crimes, they will be treated even more leniently.
"Those who committed serious crimes in the riots will face the full force of the law."
He said he did not know if anyone had surrendered so far.