BEIJING — Police in far west China beat a Tibetan man to death during a clash that broke out after two Tibetans set themselves on fire, a US broadcaster said Tuesday, the worst outburst of violence in the region in months.
The violence occurred Monday in Sichuan Province’s Aba prefecture, which has emerged as a center of political activism and the site of dozens of self-immolations in the past few years. The area, home to the influential Kirti Monastery, has been flooded with security forces, but they have been unable to stop the immolation protests.
Radio Free Asia said in an e-mailed statement that a Kirti monk named Lungtok and another man, identified as Tashi, set themselves alight Monday evening. Free Tibet, a London-based Tibetan rights group, said the two men torched themselves inside a prayer-wheel hut near the monastery before stepping out and walking toward the town’s main street.
Free Tibet said police put out the flames on both men before taking them away. It said Lungtok was reported to have died and that Tashi was last seen being taken away from the county hospital with severe injuries.
The Radio Free Asia report said a large number of police tried to clear the immolation site and ended up clashing with Tibetans. It said one man was beaten to death, but it gave no other details.
Free Tibet did not confirm the death but — citing an eyewitness — said one person was dragged away with a severe head injury.
The group said the police used metal batons spiked with nails to beat demonstrators.
It also said a protest broke out Tuesday in Tongren, a monastery town in neighboring Qinghai Province, but did not provide details.