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China reports riots in Sichuan province

/ Source: The Associated Press

One policeman was killed and several others injured in riots Monday in western Sichuan province, China’s state media reported.

The official Xinhua News Agency gave no other details regarding the riot.

Xinhua also said that 381 people involved in protests in another Sichuan county, Aba, had surrendered to police, according to local authorities.

The Communist leadership has faced the biggest challenge to its rule in the Himalayan area in nearly two decades after protests in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa exploded into violence on March 14, sparking sympathy protests in the neighboring provinces of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai.

Protests also have spread to Nepal and India.

In Nepal on Monday, police arrested about 475 Tibetan refugees, monks and their supporters as they gathered in Katmandu, the capital, to protest a crackdown on Tibetans in China, the U.N. said.

Chanting “China, stop killings in Tibet. U.N., we want justice,” protesters were marching toward U.N. offices when police stopped them about 300 feet away, beat them with bamboo sticks and snatched their banners.

The protesters demanded the U.N. investigate the recent crackdown in Tibet by Chinese authorities.

Scores more who demonstrated in another part of the capital were also arrested, the U.N. human rights office in Nepal said in a statement. Police official Sarad Karki said about 245 were arrested in the Lalitpur area, where the U.N. offices are located.

Good relations with China
Nepal, which has good relations with neighboring China, has said it will not allow protests against any “friendly nation,” including China, and has not issued any statements on Beijing’s crackdown in Tibet.

The second protest near Singhadurbar, where the prime minister’s office and all government ministries are located, was also stopped by police, but less force was used.

Police official Sarvendra Khanal said 155 protesters were arrested.

The officials could not explain why the U.N. said 475 were arrested while police said only 400.

The U.N. human rights office said it was “deeply concerned at the arbitrary arrests and detentions of several hundred individuals.” The office said the arrested included some prominent Nepali human rights activists who joined the protests.

“These actions by police violate individuals’ basic rights to freedom from arbitrary detention and freedom of movement, in addition to impairing the individuals’ rights to peaceful assembly and expression,” the U.N. statement said.

Nepal criticized for use of force
International human rights groups and the U.N. have already criticized Nepal over its use of force in the past several days against protests in Katmandu involving some of the thousands of Tibetan refugees living in the country.

New York-based Human Rights Watch also urged Nepal to stop doing “Beijing’s bidding” and end its crackdown on Tibetan exiles protesting against China.

The group said last week Nepal “should cease arbitrary arrests and detentions, harassment, and the use of excessive force to silence Tibetan protesters, activists and journalists.”

Nepal’s border with China in the Himalayas is a key route for Tibetans fleeing Chinese rule in the region.

Thousands of Tibetan refugees live with relatives in Nepal or in camps funded by aid groups. Most of the refugees eventually move to India, where Tibet’s government-in-exile and its spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, are based.