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Unrest spreads outside of Tibet: Wen

world Updated: Mar 18, 2008 09:39 IST

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Tuesday that protests over China's rule of Tibet had spread from the Himalayan region to other areas, the first official confirmation after many repeated denials.

"We see that they tried to stage such an appalling incident in Lhasa and in other parts of China," Wen said when referring to the protests that he blamed on groups aligned with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

Wen's comments were the first official confirmation that protests had spread to other parts of China with ethnic Tibetan populations, following reports of days of deadly unrest in those regions.

Anti-Chinese rallies have been reported in the provinces of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai since violence broke out in the Tibetan capital Lhasa on Friday.

The deadliest reported incident outside so far took place on Sunday in Ngawa town in Sichuan, with troops opening fire on the crowd, activist groups said, citing accounts from witnesses.

At least eight people were killed, the groups said, although some put the death toll much higher.

Despite repeated requests to local and central authorities for details of the other protests, officials had earlier refused to confirm the demonstrations, or outright denied them.

Authorities have blocked foreign reporters from trying to enter these areas, as well as Lhasa.

The Chinese government said Tibetan rioters murdered 13 innocent civilians in the Lhasa riots and denied using any deadly force to quell the uprising.

However exiled Tibetan leaders in India said on Monday that about 100 people had been killed, but possibly many more, may have been killed in the ensuing Chinese crackdown in Lhasa and elsewhere.