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Rights groups: 5 Tibetans self-immolate in 2 days

Exiled Tibetans held a demonstration in India ahead of the start of China’s weeklong Communist Party congress.

Ashwini Bhatia/Associated Press

Exiled Tibetans held a demonstration in India ahead of the start of China’s weeklong Communist Party congress.

BEIJING — Tibetan protests against Chinese rule intensified around the opening of a pivotal Communist Party congress as three teenage monks and two other Tibetans set themselves on fire over two days, activists reported Thursday.

Four of the self-immolations took place Wednesday and were followed by a fifth involving a nomad in western Qinghai on Thursday. Since March 2011, dozens of ethnic Tibetans have self-immolated in ethnically Tibetan areas to protest what activists say is China’s heavy-handed rule over the region. Such protests have become more frequent in recent weeks, apparently aimed at the party’s weeklong conference to unveil the country’s new leadership that opened Thursday.

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‘‘These protests are aimed at sending the next generation of China’s unelected regime a clear signal that Tibetans will continue to fight for their freedom, despite China’s efforts to suppress and intimidate them,’’ Free Tibet director Stephanie Brigden said in a statement.

Free Tibet also said that the three monks, at ages 15 and 16, were the youngest to self-immolate.

They set fire to themselves Wednesday afternoon outside a police office in southwest Sichuan Province calling for freedom for Tibet .

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