Deadly clashes broke out between ethnic Tibetans and Chinese security forces in China's Sichuan province on Thursday. At least two Tibetan protesters have been dead, several policemen injured and many are behind the bars in a spate of deadly violence in the province.
The government's news agency, Xinhua, quoting local authorities saying that police opened fire after a mob charged a police station in a Tibetan prefecture in Sichuan on Tuesday, injuring 14 police officers, one day after a similar attack in the same prefecture."
"'They also opened fire at us, injuring 14 police officers.' Police were forced to use force after efforts involving persuasion and non-lethal weapon defense failed to disperse the mob,'' Xinhua said.
Another attack on a police station in Luhuo county on Monday left one rioter dead and five police officers injured
"The international news agency AFP said: "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."
It is difficult to independently verify news coming out of these regions where the protests have flared in the past week coinciding with the Chinese New Year.
According to a BBC report at least 16 ethnic Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March 11in what are described as protests at perceived cultural and religious repression under Chinese rule. "Several of them are known to have died. The authorities in Beijing have moved to suppress religious activism since riots in Tibet four years ago killed 19 people."
But the government has always played down the attempts, branding them the result of destabilising forces attempting to incite violence in a peaceful Tibet.
"The recent self-immolations of monks and nuns in Tibetan-inhabited areas of southwest China's Sichuan province are linked to overseas plots, a Chinese Tibetologist wrote in a signed article to the Xinhua in December.
"People are repulsed and angered by the masterminds, supporters and eulogists of the self-immolations, as they feel sad and sorry for the loss of young lives," Zhang Yun of the China Tibetology Research Centre wrote.