Page last updated at 16:43 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 17:43 UK

Nepal arrests Tibetan protesters

By Charles Haviland
BBC News, Kathmandu

Pro-Tibet demonstrators in Nepal, 17 April 2008
Nepal is concerned about harm to links with China

Police in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu have arrested several hundred Tibetan exiles.

The Tibetans, members of the refugee community, were demonstrating near Chinese diplomatic buildings.

Tibetan exiles and a police spokesman told the BBC that a total of 508 were being held in four locations.

It was the third day in a row that Tibetans have demonstrated in Nepal against Chinese rule in Tibet, after a break over Nepal's election period.

This is possibly the largest number of Tibetans picked up so far by the Nepalese police.

Most of those just arrested had rallied outside the Chinese embassy, with a smaller group outside its consular building.

Zero tolerance

Tibetan sources told the BBC the protesters were beaten in the streets, as were two foreign nationals.

Usually the detainees are released after nightfall but more than 100 picked up on Wednesday were held overnight.

The authorities here are displaying a zero-tolerance attitude towards the Tibetans, saying their activity harms Nepal's relations with China.

That will not change with the likely dominance of the Maoist former rebels in Nepal's new government.

The Maoists have criticised Tibetans' anti-China protests within Tibet and have, not surprisingly, recently reiterated their strong admiration for communist China's founding father, Mao Zedong.

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