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Tibetan exiles scale walls of UN compound

world Updated: Mar 28, 2008 17:10 IST
Tibetan exiles

About 18 protesting Tibetan exiles scaled the walls of the United Nations compound in Nepal's capital on Friday, as police arrested 60 others rallying outside, dragging some into waiting vehicles, officials and witnesses said.

Nepal a key route for Tibetans fleeing Chinese rule has been criticised for not allowing peaceful demonstrations against China's recent crackdown on protesters in Tibet.

Thousands of refugees live with relatives in the Himalayan region or in camps funded by aid groups.

Demonstrators carrying Tibetan flags and carrying placards reading "Free Tibet" remained inside the UN compound Friday after climbing the wall.

Reporters and photographers were not allowed inside the compound, but saw the protesters waving flags and banners while being taken to a conference room by UN officials.

Nepalese police surrounded the compound and were posted at all the gates. One police official went inside and asked for the protesters to be handed over, but UN officials refused.

While police were trying to determine how the protesters had slipped inside the compound, another group of 100 marched toward the building shouting, "Free Tibet, we want freedom."

An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw police round up about 60 protesters outside the building, while dozens more dispersed on their own. Police at the scene refused to comment.

The UN did not immediately comment on the condition of the protesters inside the building or what it planned to do with them. A statement was expected later in the day.

Protests and rioting in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa and a crackdown by Chinese forces earlier this month left at least 22 people dead by official count, the broadest challenge to Chinese rule since a failed 1959 uprising that sent the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, into exile in India.

Nepalese officials say they cannot allow any activities against friendly nations, including China.

Tibetan exiles and monks have held demonstrations in Nepal's capital since the Chinese crackdown.

They have protested outside the UN compound, the Chinese Embassy's visa office and near the prime minister's office. Police, sometimes with bamboo batons and tear gas, has broken all of the protests up.