March 19, 2008
BEIJING – Police clamped down in far-flung towns and villages Wednesday seeking to restore control in the Tibetan areas of western China as sporadic demonstrations against Chinese rule in Tibet flared up.
A top Beijing Olympics official vowed the unrest would not disrupt plans for the torch relay preceding this summer’s Olympics in Beijing. One leg of the relay is to pass through Tibet, taking the flame to the peak of Mount Everest sometime in May.
The official Xinhua News Agency said late Wednesday that 170 people had surrendered for their role in last week’s riots in Tibet’s capital, Lhasa. The violence injured 325 people, and China says 16 people were killed, denying claims by Tibetan exile groups that 80 died.
Despite an expanding police crackdown, Tibetans have continued to take to the streets to call for Tibet’s independence and the return of the Dalai Lama, their exiled spiritual leader.
Hundreds of protesters, some on horseback and others on foot, stormed a government compound in the town of Hezuo in Gansu province Tuesday crying “Free Tibet.” Whirling lassos and shaking fists, they burned the Chinese flag and hoisted the emblem of an independent Tibet.
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