Government building in Tibet hit by blast: report

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 27, 2011 10:43 PM
Government building in Tibet hit by blast: report

BEIJING (Reuters) - A Chinese government building in a remote part of tense Tibet was hit by an explosion, leaving no injuries but adding to tensions after a string of self-immolation protests, an overseas radio service said late Thursday.

Radio Free Asia, based in Washington, said a bomb blast struck a township government building Wednesday in Changdu, Tibet.

"In the early dawn hours of October 26, there was an explosion in a local government building," the radio service said on its website, citing an unnamed member of the Tibetan exile parliament, which is based in India. It said he spoke on condition of anonymity.

"No casualties were reported," he said, according to the report. "This could be because no one stays in the building overnight. Walls of the building had also been painted with slogans in red calling for independence for Tibet, and leaflets had been scattered in the area."

The area was now under heavy security it said.

Chinese state-run media carried no word of the reported incident. Repeated calls to government offices in Changdu -- called Chamdo by Tibetans -- went unanswered and a police officer there said he had not heard of any blast.

If confirmed, the incident could add to tensions in ethnic Tibetan areas, where many locals resent the presence of the Chinese government and its controls on their Tibetan Buddhist religion.

The People's Republic of China has ruled Tibet since Communist troops took control there in 1950 and Beijing says its policies have brought much needed development to the poor mountain region, as well as religious freedom.

Tibetan areas in Sichuan province, which neighbors the official Tibet Autonomous Region, have been unsettled by a string of self-immolation protests by Buddhist monks and a nun over past months.

In the latest such protest, a monk doused himself in fuel and set himself ablaze Tuesday, the tenth ethnic Tibetan this year to resort to the extreme form of protest, an overseas advocacy group said.

In March 2008, protests and deadly riots against the Chinese presence spread across Tibetan regions, triggering sometimes deadly confrontations with troops and police.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who China condemns as a supporter of violent separatism for his homeland, last week led hundreds of maroon-robed monks, nuns and lay Tibetans in north India in prayer to mourn those who have burned themselves to death or been imprisoned.

The Dalai Lama denies advocating violence and insists he wants only real autonomy for his homeland, from which he fled in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

But the Chinese Foreign Ministry has said the Dalai Lama should take the blame for the burnings, and repeated Beijing's line that Tibetans are free to practice their Buddhist faith.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley and Sabrina Mao; Editing by Ron Popeski)