China has blamed the Dalai Lama for an outbreak of violence at a Buddhist monastery in Tibet, accusing the exiled spiritual leader of stirring up unrest.
The Dalai Lama says he wants autonomy for Tibet
The official Xinhua news agency said 17 Tibetans on 14 March destroyed a pair of statues at Lhasa's Ganden Monastery depicting the deity Dorje Shugden.
Lhasa's mayor blamed the destruction on followers of the Dalai Lama, who sees Dorje Shugden as a divisive force.
Analysts accused China of exploiting any dispute for political ends.
The Dalai Lama has urged his followers not to worship Dorje Shugden, regarded as a powerful but dangerous protector, analysts say.
Instead of praying to Shugden, the Dalai Lama has urged all Tibetans to pray together and avoid internal conflicts.
But the mayor of Lhasa, Norbu Dunzhub, said the apparent violence at Ganden monastery was "by no means an accidental event".
"On a fundamental level, [the violence] was provoked by the Dalai clique, whose purpose is to arouse conflict between different sects of Tibetan Buddhism, thus sabotaging the unity of Tibet," Xinhua reported the mayor as saying.
Tibet's senior Communist Party official, Zhang Qingli, directly blamed the Dalai Lama, accusing him of encouraging monks to attack the monastery.
"What the Dalai Lama has done violates the religious freedom of believers," he told Xinhua.
But some analysts have accused China of exploiting the apparent unrest for political gain in an effort to discredit the Dalai Lama.
Tibet analyst Theirry Dodin said China had encouraged division among the Tibetans by promoting followers of the Dorje Shugden sect to key positions of authority.
1950 - China invades Tibet, claims it as province
1951 - Under duress, Tibet signs controversial treaty with China
1956- Rebellions break out in Amdo and Kham
1959 - Rebellion spreads to Lhasa, where it is crushed by Chinese army. Dalai Lama flees to India
"There is a fault line in Tibetan Buddhism and its traditions itself, but it is also exploited for political purposes," he told the BBC News website.
A spokesman for the Free Tibet Campaign, Yael Weisz-Rind, said the Chinese criticism mirrored tactics used during negotiations between the two sides.
"They always accuse him of separatism and campaigning for a free Tibet.
"Disagreements are normal in every healthy religion or society. This kind of discussion is what stops them stagnating."
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 following China's invasion nine years earlier. He lives in exile in Dharamsala, India.
China and the Dalai Lama have been engaged in secretive talks for years, and met for a fifth round of talks in February, but have made little progress. The Dalai Lama has called for Tibetan autonomy within China, but China repeatedly labels him a separatist and says he seeks full independence.