updated 6/5/2008 6:43:14 AM ET 2008-06-05T10:43:14

Chinese police have arrested 16 Tibetan Buddhist monks who were allegedly involved in a series of bombings after unrest swept the Himalayan region this spring, state media said Thursday.

Operating in three separate groups, the monks from eastern Tibet's Mangkam county attempted to blow up an electricity substation, a police post, a fuel depot, and a private home, the official Xinhua New Agency said. It said some of the bombings failed, while others apparently succeeded. No injuries were reported.

It said the attacks took place in early April and the monks were detained May 12-13. All confessed to taking part in the attempted attacks under police questioning, and three alleged accomplices are still being sought, Xinhua said.

Torture?
No reason was given for the delay in the announcement and no mention was made of any other evidence against the monks. Chinese police rely heavily on confessions to solve cases, a practice blamed for widespread alleged use of torture against suspects.

Police said the monks had listened to foreign radio stations and were acting on separatist propaganda issued by the "Dalai Lama clique," the name China uses for Tibet's exiled spiritual leader and his supporters.

The claims match China's contention that exile forces orchestrated a series of sometimes violent anti-government protests that broke out in Tibet's capital of Lhasa on March 14, eventually spreading to Tibetan-inhabited areas across western China.

China says the protests were part of a violent campaign by the Dalai Lama and his supporters to throw off Chinese rule in Tibet and sabotage the Beijing Olympics in August. It said the alleged bombings occurred weeks later, after China had flooded the region with security.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Thursday he had no details about the case.

A police officer, Ma Dingjun, in Changdu, the capital of the region that includes Mangkam, confirmed three separate bombing cases had been investigated, but could not confirm the number of people arrested.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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