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Page last updated at 08:11 GMT, Thursday, 25 December 2008

Dozens held over 'Tibet rumours'

A police officer stands guard in Lhasa, Tibet, 20/06
The term "rumours" is often a euphemism for anti-government views in China

China has detained 59 people in Tibet for spreading rumours and trying to stir up racial hatred and incite violence, state media reports.

They are also accused of downloading "reactionary" songs from the internet for distribution within Tibet, the China News Service said.

The news report said they were acting under the influence of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Tibet was rocked by widespread anti-China protests in March.

Independent rights groups say about 200 people were killed and at least 1,000 are missing since the riots.

It is unclear from the reports if the 59 arrests refer to the total detained since March, or are fresh arrests in recent days.

'Reactionary rumours'

"After the violent incident in March, some people with ulterior motives under the scheming and encouragement of the Dalai splittist clique intentionally spread rumours and incited ethnic feelings, threatening national and personal security," the China News Service reported.

The report said police had been searching the markets of Lhasa looking for people selling "reactionary songs" downloaded from the internet and sold in compact disc and MP3 format.

These people hope to "spark violence, interfere with and damage Lhasa's political stability," the report added.

Xin Yuanming, the deputy police chief in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, said that since March, police had cracked 48 cases of "rumour-mongering" as well as detaining 59 people.

"A number of people with ulterior motives deliberately spread rumours and fanned ethnic sentiment," he was quoted on the Chinatibetnews.com website as saying.

The term rumours is often a euphemism for anti-government views in China.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in India since fleeing his homeland after a failed uprising in 1959 against Chinese rule.

China has ruled Tibet since 1951 after sending troops to the Himalayan region the previous year.

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