Police in China shot dead more protesters in Tibetan-inhabited areas as unrest spread, official media and an advocacy group said on Wednesday, amid signs of a physical and virtual lockdown on the region.
China’s Sichuan province, which has big populations of ethnic Tibetans, many of whom complain of severe repression, has been rocked by violent clashes this week — some of the worst since huge protests against Chinese rule in 2008.
The United States on Tuesday said it was “seriously concerned” by the situation, calling on Chinese security forces to “exercise restraint” and urging authorities to allow journalists and diplomats into flashpoint areas.
There were indications on Wednesday that the authorities were restricting movement and communications in the region as unrest spread.
Phone numbers were suddenly unavailable and one local said his town had been closed off by authorities.
The situation has prompted Lobsang Sangay, head of the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile, to call on the international community “to not remain passive” and “to intervene to prevent further bloodshed”.
The unrest comes amid increasing tensions in Tibetan-inhabited areas, where at least 16 people have set themselves ablaze in less than a year — including four this month — over a lack of religious freedom.