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Dalai Lama inciting riots, says Jiabao

The Chinese Premier defends the crackdown in Tibet, accusing the Dalai Lama of organising the rioting that has left dozens dead. Hu addresses NPC | Tibet crackdown sparks protests: Pics | Tibet burns: Pics | Security tight following Tibetan riots: Video
Reuters | By Benjamin Kang Lim and Chris Buckley, Beijing
UPDATED ON MAR 18, 2008 01:40 PM IST

Premier Wen Jiabao defended China's crackdown in Tibet on Tuesday, accusing the Himalayan region's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, of organising the rioting that may have left dozens dead.

"There is ample fact and plenty of evidence proving this incident was organised, premeditated, masterminded and incited by the Dalai clique," Wen told a news conference.

"This has all the more revealed the consistent claims by the Dalai clique that they pursue not independence but peaceful dialogue are nothing but lies."

The Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959, has denied Chinese accusations he incited the rioting. The god-king of Tibetan Buddhists says he wants autonomy for Tibet within China but not outright independence.

Monk-led pro-independence protests, the biggest in almost two decades, erupted in Tibet's regional capital Lhasa last Monday and by the weekend spilled into nearby Chinese provinces with significant Tibetan populations.

Some turned ugly, weighing uncomfortably on China, anxious to polish its image in the build-up to the Beijing Olympic Games in August.

Western nations have called on Beijing to exercise restraint, but International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge told Reuters in Trinidad on Monday there had been "absolutely no calls" from governments for a Beijing Games boycott.

Exiled representatives of Tibet in India put the death toll from last Friday's protests against Chinese rule at 80.

But Chinese authorities said security forces exercised restraint in response to the Lhasa burning and looting, using only non-lethal weapons, and only 13 "innocent civilians" died.

There was no word from Lhasa of any action taken after the passing of a Monday midnight deadline for people involved in the rioting to surrender to police or face harsher treatment.

Foreign journalists are not allowed to travel to the Himalayan region of Tibet without permission.

In neighbouring Sichuan province, an ethnic Tibetan man said he knew of no fresh outbreaks of unrest since Monday.

"Now they are bringing back stability," he told Reuters by telephone, requesting anonymity out of fear for his safety.

"There are so many police and People's Armed Police it will be difficult for anything to spread," he said.

"I'm sure the People's Liberation Army is waiting too. In the background waiting, if the situation really gets out of hand."

(Additional reporting by Lindsay Beck; Writing by John Chalmers; Editing by Nick Macfie and Jerry Norton)

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