Police fired warning shots as fresh violence erupted in a Tibetan-populated area in southwest China left at least one government official seriously injured despite the massing of troops by Beijing in the volatile Himalayan region.
Tibetan groups overseas claimed that at least eight people had been killed in the new riots on Thursday night in the Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Garze in southwest China's Sichuan province.
Local authorities said that the violence erupted when mobs attacked the seat of the Donggu township, the government of Garze county, seriously injuring the official from the local People's Congress who was on an inspection tour of the town.
"Police were forced to fire warning shots and put down the violence," official Xinhua news agency quoted an official of the prefectural government as saying.
The Tibetan groups claimed that police opened fire in a protest led by Buddhist monks demanding the release of two Lamas detained for possessing photographs of the Dalai Lama.
After the Tibetan capital Lhasa was rocked by violence on March 14, riots had spread to Tibetan inhabited areas of Sichuan and Gansu provinces.
Thursday night's riots in Garze prefecture come nearly a fortnight after violent mobs had killed a police officer in the same province.
The latest incident occurred the same day when China announced that Tibet would be opened to tourists from May one, weeks after it was out of bounds following the unrest, to send a message that the government was in control and normalcy had been restored.