A 20-year-old Tibetan monk in western China has become the latest to set himself on fire in protest against Chinese rule, Tibetan exiles said.
The monk, Lobsang Tsultrim, self-immolated Friday in Aba, a monastery town in Sichuan province that has been under a security lockdown, two Tibetan monks exiled in India said in an e-mailed statement.
Nearly 30 Tibetans have set themselves on fire over the last year to protest the suppression of their religion and culture and to call for the return of their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
Tsultrim was a monk from Aba's Kirti Monastery, the scene of numerous protests against the Chinese government over the past several years, according to the two exiled monks, Losang Yeshe and Kanyag Tsering. The two monks were formerly from the Kirti Monastery.
Tsultrim set himself on fire and walked along Aba's main road, shouting slogans against the Chinese government, the exiles said. When armed police ran to stop him, he turned and ran back, and was knocked to the ground by a police officer, they said.
Police extinguished the flames and put him into the back of a pickup vehicle, the statement said.
A man who answered the phone at the Aba township government said he had not heard about the self-immolation and hung up. Calls to the government and police of Aba county rang unanswered Saturday.
Radio Free Asia reported that more than 1,000 Tibetans demonstrated Friday in neighboring Qinghai province's Tongde county to call for the release of more than 50 monks who had been detained Thursday amid a crackdown on a monastery.
Authorities in Tongde either could not be reached by phone or said they had not heard about the protest.