HONG KONG - Security forces opened fire on Tibetan protesters in western China yesterday, injuring at least 32 people and killing at least one of them in the largest violent confrontation in ethnic Tibetan areas of China since 2008, two Tibetan rights groups and the Tibetan exile government said.
Free Tibet, a group based in London, said tensions remained high into the evening after the shootings in Luhuo, known in Tibetan as Draggo, and westernmost Sichuan Province, near the border with Tibet.
Yesterday’s incident was the second reported shooting of Tibetan protesters in the past week and a half. The previous incident, on Jan. 14, in which two people were reported wounded, took place in Aba, also located in Sichuan Province and 100 miles northeast of Luhuo.
Free Tibet identified the slain protester as Norpa Yonten, a 49-year-old layman. The International Campaign for Tibet, a rights group based in Washington, said he was the brother of a reincarnated lama.
Brigden said the group had the names of 31 more people with gunshot wounds. She said additional people were shot and injured but their names were not immediately available.
Kate Saunders, a spokeswoman for the International Campaign for Tibet, said by phone that three people, including Yonten, had been killed and that 49 people had sought treatment for injuries at a clinic. The 49 included nine people with gunshot wounds and 40 with various injuries from beatings and other causes, she said.
People in China wounded by gunshots are often leery of going to hospitals, fearing that they will face questioning and possibly retaliation by the authorities.