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China increases security following Tibetan protests

A Chinese official announced security would be increased in monasteries and on highways.

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This picture taken on October 19, 2011 shows a monk at a monastery in Shanba township in China's Sichuan province. (PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP/Getty Images)

A senior Communist party official has stepped up security in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and on major roads in the region, following the protests in the Sichuan province, the BBC reported.

“Strive to realize the goal of ‘no big incidents, no medium incidents and not even a small incident,’ ” Qi Zhala, said in comments published on Tuesday in the state-owned Tibet Daily, The New York Times reported.

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He also warned of a crackdown on anyone involved in any “separatists, destructive and criminal” activities, the BBC reported. The warning was made after protesters and security forces became violent in the Sichuan province last week, leaving at least three people dead and dozens more injured.

Tibetans have been protesting the government, which has been going on for nearly four years. Fire was opened on protesters three times last week, the Associated Press reported. Since last March, 16 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest of Beijing’s rule, the BBC reported.

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Qi participated in inspection tours on monasteries this week, warning clerics they would be dismissed if they caused any trouble, the AP reported. He also told security agents to be alert at highway checkpoints leading into Lhasa for any acts of sabotage.

"Lhasa officials and functionaries at all levels, especially the police, must increase... efforts to rationally dispatch police forces and step up registration and inspection work along national roads, at key monasteries and among leading suspects,” Qi said, the BBC reported.

According to the BBC’s correspondent, Martin Patience, Qi’s security crackdown highlights the concern that protests and unrest could spread.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/china/120131/china-increases-security-following-tibetan-protests