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Page last updated at 12:41 GMT, Sunday, 22 March 2009

Tibetan monks 'held after riot'

Chinese soldiers marching in Qinghai, 10/03
Chinese authorities stepped up security in Tibetan areas in recent weeks

Some 93 monks have been held by Chinese police after a riot in an ethnically Tibetan town, state-run media report.

The monks were held after a crowd of at least 100 attacked a police station in La'gyab township in Qinghai province on Saturday, Xinhua news agency said.

The agency quoted officials as saying policemen and government staff had been assaulted and "slightly injured".

The unrest was apparently sparked after a monk detained for advocating Tibetan independence escaped from jail.

Chinese authorities said the monk fled on Saturday and was still missing.

But a Tibetan website, Phayul, said the monk had killed himself by jumping into a river.

The site quoted a former resident of the area who now lives in India as saying the incident sparked anti-China protests by crowds chanting Tibetan independence slogans.

'Deceived by rumours'

Xinhua said six people had been arrested and 89 more had surrendered to police. All but two of the 95 people held were monks from the La'gyab Monastery.

China map

Police quoted by the agency said the people had been "deceived by rumours" about the monk, but gave no further details.

It was earlier reported by Xinhua that the unrest had taken place in Gyala township, but the agency later confirmed the name of the town as La'gyab.

It is difficult to confirm reports from Tibetan areas because foreigners are not allowed into Tibet and access to surrounding regions is restricted.

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of a failed uprising by Tibetans against Chinese rule which saw their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, flee into exile.

The BBC's James Reynolds, in Beijing, says Chinese officials have taken extra security measures to avoid mass protests around the anniversary.

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