Official death toll in Tibet violence rises to 19 and 600 injured
(dpa) - The death toll in violent demonstrations against Chinese rule in Tibet has risen to 19, and more than 600 people were injured according to an official government tally, official news agency Xinhua reported Saturday.
The report only included Chinese caught up violence by Tibetans and no information was given about the number of Tibetan protestors killed or wounded. Exiled Tibetans have put the number of dead at 100.
On Friday, Chinese police said for the first time said they shot protesters during violent Tibet-related unrest in the south-western province of Sichuan. Police opened fire in self-defence during unrest Sunday in the town of Aba, where members of China's Tibetan minority live, Xinhua said, citing police sources.
State media portrayed the demonstrations as being carried by a "handful of vandals" and people "forced" to participate. The Chinese government has accused Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama of organizing the protests that spread from the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, to other cities in the autonomous region and neighbouring provinces.
A spokesman for the Tibetan government-in-exile in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala denied the Dalai Lama was behind the protests.
"The protests were not coordinated, so no one had any control over them," he said. "We regret that they became violent. The Dalai Lama has always been against violence."
As of Friday, 183 demonstrators had turned themselves into police in Lhasa, Xinhua reported.
On Saturday, authorities estimated damages from the violence at 244 million yuan (35 million dollars).