Image: police officer in Lhasa
Joe Chan  /  Reuters
A police officer guards the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, on Thursday as the city prepared for the arrival of the Olympic torch this weekend.
updated 6/20/2008 7:47:46 AM ET 2008-06-20T11:47:46

The capital of Tibet was getting ready Friday to host the Olympic torch relay, three months after violent anti-government rioting rocked the city.

The relay, which was disrupted during several legs outside of China by protests against Beijing's policies in Tibet, was scheduled to stop in Lhasa on Saturday.

The 6.8-mile run will begin at Norbulingka, known as the Dalai Lama's Summer Palace, and end at the hilltop Potala Palace, the traditional seat of Tibetan rulers, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported.

The article did not mention any security measures taken for the relay, although stringent controls were expected in light of the anti-government rioting that broke out March 14 in Lhasa and subsequent protests throughout Tibetan-inhabited regions of western China.

Chinese officials say Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, was behind the unrest. They also accuse the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate of trying to sabotage the Olympics and preparing "suicide squads" to carry out attacks. The Dalai Lama has denied the charges.

Security clampdown
Tibet has been under a security clampdown since March and is still closed to foreign tourists. Journalists from other countries have been allowed to visit only as part of closely monitored government tours.

Activist groups have said the torch relay leg in Tibet and a separate relay stop at the peak of Mount Everest were an attempt by Chinese leaders to symbolize their control over the Himalayan region.

China says it has ruled Tibet for centuries, although many Tibetans say their homeland was essentially independent for much of that time.

During the stop in Lhasa, the Olympic flame will be reunited with the one that was taken separately to the top of Mount Everest last month.

The torch was originally supposed to go through Tibet on June 18 or 19. It was unclear why organizers changed the date.

Organizers also said last month that the stop, originally set for three days, would be cut to one day to make way for a switch in the visit to Sichuan province, the center of a May 12 earthquake that killed nearly 70,000 people.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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