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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 October 2006, 16:19 GMT 17:19 UK
Climber's shock at Tibet killing
By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Kathmandu

A British climber has related how he saw Chinese border guards shooting dead a Tibetan refugee in a group trying to flee to Nepal 11 days ago.

Policeman Steve Marsh told the BBC he was resting at a camp on the Tibetan side of the Himalayan peak of Cho-Oyu.

He spoke of his shock at the incident, which he said scores of other mountaineers also witnessed.

Tibet welfare groups say the Tibetan who died was a young nun, and add that a boy might also have been killed.

'Dead in the snow'

Mr Marsh, from Bristol, was speaking in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu.

He said his party saw two or three Chinese soldiers hurrying towards a column of about 25 people on a glacier, clearly Tibetans trying to escape over a high pass into Nepal.

Mr Marsh said the Chinese fired twice but the group continued.

There was a third shot, the last in the group fell but was helped to move on a few yards, then there was a fourth shot which left the person dead in the snow.

Police only removed the body the next day. Soon after the shooting, a group of young children were marched through Mr Marsh's camp by Chinese soldiers. Their fate is unknown.

Tibetan welfare organisations say they had been taken from the escaping group, more of whom moved on to Kathmandu, where the UN refugee agency has questioned them.

Hundreds of Tibetans flee to Nepal every year but for years now Kathmandu, keen not to alienate Beijing, has passed new refugees onto India, where Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is based.

The alleged shooting broadcast on television

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