1 Mar 2009

Chinese troops shoot Tibetan monk, says activist group

10:50 am on 1 March 2009

Chinese troops shot a Tibetan monk who set himself on fire in a protest in a part of western China that erupted in deadly riots a year ago, according to an activist group.

A Free Tibet Campaign spokesman said the monk started the blaze after walking out of a monastery in Aba county, an ethnic Tibetan area in Sichuan province, carrying a Tibetan flag with a picture of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

The monk was surrounded by armed police, three gun shots were heard and he was carried away in a van after falling to the ground, said Matt Whitticase, citing unidentified sources.

He said it was not known whether the monk was dead or alive.

The Reuters news agency reached three people by phone in the town outside the Kirti monastery, where the monk had been based, but was unable to obtain confirmation of the protest.

Next month marks the 50th anniversary of the exile of the Dalai Lama, following a failed insurrection against China, and there is intense security across Tibet itself and many neighbouring areas with ethnic Tibetans.