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Lhasa tense; China begins 'people's war'

The local Govt launches a "people's war" to crush the pro-independence protests, ahead of the deadline to Tibetans to surrender.
PTI | By Raghavendra, Beijing
UPDATED ON MAR 16, 2008 10:00 PM IST

Chinese security forces poured into a tense but relatively peaceful Lhasa even as the local government on Sunday launched a "people's war" to crush the massive pro-independence protests, ahead of the deadline to agitating Tibetans to surrender.

No fresh bloodletting was reported in the riots-scarred Tibetan capital Lhasa where 10 people were killed and 12 security personnel injured after the protests launched as part of the stir to mark the 49th anniversary of the failed Tibetan uprising against the 57-year Chinese rule turned violent.

However, rights groups claimed that seven people were killed on Sunday after the violent protests spilled to nearby provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai and Gansu with significant Tibetan population.

A day after setting a Monday deadline for rioters to surrender or face punishment, Tibetan political and security chiefs declared a "people's war" against the protesters and vowed to "expose" the Dalai Lama group.

"We must wage a people's war to beat splittism and expose and condemn the malicious acts of these hostile forces and expose the hideous face of the Dalai Lama group to the light of day," they were quoted as saying by media after an emergency meeting.

Demanding an international probe into the Chinese crackdown, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama accused Beijing of carrying out a "cultural genocide". But supported Beijing's staging of the Olympics in August.

International pressure mounted on Beijing to show restraint in handling the protests that convulsed Tibet at a time when Beijing is going all out to showcase China through the Olympic eyes.

As tension simmered, the city Mayor Doje Cezhug proclaimed, "Lhasa is calm".

"We didn't enforce martial law there, and the situation in Tibet as a whole is good at present," he said here, blaming the unrest on a "handful" of monks and lawless persons engaged in "beating, smashing, looting and burning".

He said the government is able to maintain "stability for the people".

Many shops reopened and private cars and taxis are back on the streets, official Xinhua news agency said quoting its reporters in Lhasa. "Grocery stalls and shops in my neighbourhood are still open," it quoted a Tibetan ethnic woman, Yangzom, as saying.

"Shop open for the day now and close during the night," a private gas owner Wang said.

Official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday that two of the 12 security personnel injured were in "critical" condition.

"The protesters were barbarous and violent. They ganged up on the young and police officers and beat innocent people," a tourist surnamed Dong staying at a hotel on Bargor street , a major area hit by the violence, was quoted as saying.

A Lhasa resident named Han Jingshan said "Some of the officers were hit hard by the riot and were bleeding badly."

A rattled China whipped up its campaign against the "Dalai clique", whom the Tibetan government has accused of having "masterminded" the riots, roping in key religious figures in the Himalayan region.

The 11th Panchen Lama Gyaincain Norbu condemned the riots, saying "sabotage acts" ran counter to the Buddhism tenets and pledged support to the ruling Communist Party of China and the government to ensure the safety and stability.

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