Two Tibetans in China’s Sichuan Province were killed when security forces fired on demonstrators, a Tibetan advocacy group said, raising the death toll in several clashes over government controls to four since Monday.
The violence is likely to add to rising tensions in the rebellious Tibetan highlands of Sichuan that border Tibet, where security forces have struggled to maintain control over heavily Buddhist communities.
At least two people were shot dead and many were wounded during protests in Seda County on Tuesday, the London-based Free Tibet group said late the same day.
“Locals describe the town as being under curfew: they have been told not to leave their homes and they are now afraid that if they do they will be shot,” the group said in a statement.
Calls to the county government and public security bureau, about 680km west of Sichuan’s capital of Chengdu, were not answered.
However, Xinhua news agency yesterday confirmed the clashes in Seda, saying police were forced to open fire killing one “rioter” when protesters attacked a police station with gasoline bottles and stones.
“Police were forced to use force after efforts involving persuasion and non-lethal weapon defense failed to disperse the mob,” Xinhua said, adding that 14 police officers were injured and 13 people were arrested.
The news agency earlier confirmed a separate clash on Monday in Luhuo Township, called Drango or Draggo by Tibetans, in the western highlands of Sichuan near Tibet.
It said one protester was killed and five police officers were hurt.
Free Tibet in a separate statement late on Tuesday said it had confirmed that at least two Tibetans had been killed in Monday’s incident in Luhuo and that it had the names of 36 people wounded in the clash.
The group also said that troops fired teargas in a third location in Sichuan — Meruma Township, Aba County, called Ngaba County by Tibetans — after people protested.
Security forces have been on edge after 16 incidents of Tibetans setting themselves on fire over the past year in response to resentment of Beijing’s controls on religion.
Most of the incidents occurred in Sichuan. Some of the protesters have called for the return of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Buddhist leader revered by many Tibetans.
Other advocacy groups and a resident in a village near Luhuo had slightly varying accounts of the incidents, which are difficult to verify because the government restricts travel to Tibet and parts of Sichuan.