Two die in assaults on police in Sichuan

Updated: 2012-02-01 07:41

By Cui Jia (China Daily)

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24 officers and firemen injured during rioting by separatists

KANGDING, Sichuan - Rioting and violent attacks against police and public properties in two counties of Southwest China's Sichuan province at the most celebrated Chinese festival about a week ago left two rioters dead and 24 police officers and firemen injured.

Initial evidence showed that the riots and assaults were well planned beforehand and instigated by trained separatists against the country, the information office of Sichuan government said on Tuesday.

The rioters stormed police stations, threw flamed gas bottles and stones at the law enforcement officers. "Some even tussled with armed police officers trying to snatch their guns before the policemen on site fought back," the office said.

The first riot started at about noon on Jan 23 - Chinese New Year's Day - when a group of people gathered on a junction in Luhuo county, Ganzi Tibetan autonomous prefecture, and unloaded rocks, batons and blades from vehicles and began to march along the street, shouting slogans for "Tibet independence", said a statement from the office.

At around 2 pm the group tried to storm a local police station. Some smashed the police cars and firefighting vehicles, threw gas bottles at the police cars, broke the windows of the police station using batons and stones. Then they attacked police officers and some tried to grab guns from the armed officers, ignoring repeated appeals and warnings from the police officers.

"The officers were forced to take actions to defend themselves according to the law and safeguard law itself," the statement said.

Ten police officers and firefighters were injured and one rioter died in the incident.

Another mob attacked a police station in Seda county, 154 km from Luhuo, the next afternoon, also firing flamed gas bottles at police officers and injuring 14 policemen. One rioter died after the police fought back. Thirteen other rioters were detained in the county.

The mob attacks have caused huge property losses to the local people, with direct economic losses exceeding 3.77 million yuan ($600,000). An initial investigation shows the rioters in Luhuo and Seda counties smashed two police cars and two firefighting cars and damaged stores, telephone booths and automatic teller machines, the statement said.

"Evidence shows that the violent attacks in Ganzi Tibetan autonomous prefecture were long plotted by separatist forces," the information office said.

Some separatists threatened the housing and personal safety of local Tibetans so that they would not celebrate the Lunar New Year in China. They spread rumors that three monks would set themselves on fire in Luhuo before the violence took place.

The separatists incited the crowd by shouting slogans and putting up banners at the busiest part of the counties demanding they join their protests, which soon turned violent.

The attacks in Ganzi are similar to what happened in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region, on March 14, 2008, which led to the death of at least 18 civilians and one policeman, with businesses looted and residences, shops and vehicles torched.

The separatists, in their endeavor to cause unrest in Tibetan-inhabited areas since then, even asked and encouraged monks to commit suicide by self-immolation, which local people believe are against Buddhist teachings.

Most victims of the recent self-immolations that happened in recent years were just around 20 years old, and the youngest who died in Sichuan was only 16.

Local residents have condemned the mob attacks and the beating, smashing and looting of rioters, which have not only run against religious teachings but also seriously damaged the social stability and daily life.

"No country governed by law would tolerate such violence directed against police and aimed at separating the country," the statement said.

Wang Xiaodong in Beijing contributed to this story.

China Daily