BEIJING — Police in far west China beat a Tibetan man to death during a clash that broke out after two Tibetans set themselves afire, a U.S. broadcaster said Tuesday, in the worst flaring 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 emailed 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, also said the two men torched themselves.
Free Tibet said police put out the flames on both men before taking them away. It said Lungtok was reported to have died.
The Radio Free Asia report said police tried to clear the immolation site and ended up clashing with Tibetans. It said one man was beaten to death.
Nearly 50 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in China since 2009, with many shouting antigovernment slogans and calling for the return of their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.
China says Tibet has always been part of its territory, but many Tibetans say the Himalayan region was virtually independent for centuries until Chinese troops invaded in the 1950s.