Friday, March 12, 2010

China steps up security crackdown in Tibet

BEIJING: Chinese security forces have stepped up a crackdown in Tibet's capital Lhasa, two years after protests marking a failed 1959 uprising erupted in deadly violence, police and reports said Thursday.

More than 400 people have reportedly been rounded up so far in the "strike hard storm" campaign launched earlier this month, which has worried residents on edge since the March 2008 unrest in the remote Himalayan region.

A policeman at a Lhasa precinct who asked not to be named told AFP on Thursday that the campaign was aimed at cracking down on Tibetan independence activities and ordinary crime.

"I don't know when we will end this campaign, but it could be at the end of March when this matter is over," said the policeman, referring to the sensitive anniversaries.

More than 1,500 extra police and security personnel had been deployed as of last week, with more than 4,100 rented apartments or homes searched, according to the Lhasa Evening News.

The newspaper said while more than 400 people had been taken into police custody, only 14 had been formally arrested on unspecified charges. It was not immediately clear if the others were released or remained in detention.

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