BEIJING (AFP) — China has arrested nine Tibetan Buddhist monks for bombing a government building on March 23 amid simmering tension following widespread riots, state media said.
The bombing targetted a government building in the town of Gyanbe and was carried out by monks from the town's Tongxia monastery, Xinhua news agency said, quoting the Himalayan region's China-controlled police.
"Cewang Yexe, one of the suspects, brought a homemade bomb to the site on a motorcycle and moved it into the office building with the help of others. They detonated the bomb and ran away," the late Saturday report said.
Xinhua named Rinqen Jamcan, 27, a "ranking monk" at the monastery, as ringleader. All the suspects have confessed, it added.
AFP was unable to immediately confirm the report, which did not mention whether the bombing caused any casualties.
However, state television later broadcast footage purported to show damage caused by the blast.
It showed a two-storey building with several windows broken and debris strewn about inside and in front of the building.
The report comes amid a relentless campaign by China to portray anti-Chinese rioting that erupted in Tibet and neighbouring regions last month as the work of violent agitators controlled by the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
Tibetans began protesting on March 10 in the region's capital, Lhasa, against what they call repressive Chinese rule.
The unrest escalated into rioting in Lhasa four days later, eventually spreading to other areas of China with Tibetan populations.
Exiled Tibetan leaders say more than 150 people have been killed in the ensuing crackdown by China.
Beijing insists its security forces have killed no one, but that Tibetan "rioters" have killed 20 people.
Faced with mounting world criticism over the crackdown, China has ratcheted up the rhetoric against what it views as the "violent" Dalai Lama "clique".
Chinese police said two weeks ago that Tibetans were planning suicide attacks as part of a campaign ahead of the Beijing Olympics to push for independence.
The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, has repeatedly denied orchestrating the unrest, spoken out against the protests when they turned violent and denied seeking independence for his homeland.
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