A young Buddhist monk has self-immolated in southwest China, becoming the latest Tibetan to take his own life to protest Beijing's rule, a rights group and exiles said on Thursday.
The 20-year-old monk, named Sherab, burned to death on Wednesday after setting himself on fire in his home town in Sichuan province's Aba county, London-based Free Tibet and exiled monks living in India said.
He was the 30th Tibetan known to have set himself alight in China since the self-immolation last March of a young monk from the Kirti monastery sparked dramatic protests in Sichuan, which has a large population of ethnic Tibetans.
Free Tibet said Sherab had returned to his home town of Charuwa two days before his death, after a period of study at the Kirti monastery.
The news could not be independently confirmed. Calls to local government offices went unanswered, while a man reached by telephone at Kirti monastery said he knew nothing about the monk's death.
Many Tibetans in China complain of religious repression as well as a gradual erosion of their culture, which they blame on a growing influx of Han Chinese -- the country's dominant ethnic group -- in areas where they live.
But China rejects these accusations. Beijing says Tibetans are enjoying better living standards, thanks largely to the huge social and infrastructure investments made by the Chinese.
Beijing has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, of inciting the self-immolations in a bid to split the vast Himalayan region from the rest of the nation.
On Tuesday, China blamed the Dalai Lama for the high-profile protest of a Tibetan exile who set himself on fire in New Delhi to protest a trip by Chinese President Hu Jintao to the Indian capital this week.
Jamphel Yeshi doused himself in fuel and lit his clothes before running down a street, a protest that was caught on camera. He was taken to hospital but later died of his injuries.