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Official: Many people injured, shops set alight in Aba riot
2008/04/04

Xiao Youcai, deputy head of the Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, shows a photo of a police station burnt in the March 16 riot, during a press conference in Beijing, capital of China, April 3, 2008. More than 200 people were injured and 24 shops and 81 vehicles were set alight in the March 16 riot in Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Xiao said on Thursday.(Xinhua Photo)

Xiao Youcai, deputy head of the Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, shows a photo of weapons found in the Kirti Monastery on March 28, during a press conference in Beijing, capital of China, April 3, 2008. More than 200 people were injured and 24 shops and 81 vehicles were set alight in the March 16 riot in Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Xiao said on Thursday. (Xinhua Photo)

    BEIJING, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Innocent civilians and more than 200 government personnel and police were injured and 24 shops and 81 vehicles were set alight in the March 16 riot in the Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of southwestern China, an official said on Thursday.

    Xiao Youcai, deputy head of the Sichuan Province prefecture, told a press conference here that the police tackling the riot were all local and they used weapons for self-defence after warning shots failed to stop the mob.

    "The mob attacked the police and tried to take their guns. Some of them even attempted to break into a local ammunition warehouse and the detention center under the local security bureau."

    He said no deaths had been reported so far. Two police stations were set on fire during the violence.

    "The economic loss from the smashing, looting and arson amounts to more than 10 years of Aba County's fiscal revenue," he said.

    Following the unrest that erupted in Lhasa on March 14, Aba County of the Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan also witnessed criminal violence on March 16, led by monks from the Kirti Monastery, said Xiao.

    The mob, some waving flags of the so-called "Tibetan government-in-exile", holding portraits of the Dalai Lama and shouting Tibetan independence slogans, committed assaults and vandalism, looting and arson on the main streets of the county, Xiao said.

    With the support of local people of various ethnic groups, the situation was soon brought under control and social order was restored, he said.

    Xiao said on March 28 munitions were found in the Kirti Monastery in Aba County, which is under the Aba Prefecture. The weapons included 30 guns, 498 bullets, 4 kilograms of gun powder and 33 swords.

    Large amount of propaganda material for "Tibet independence", device for sending text messages to mobile phones, and pornographic discs were also discovered in the raid.

    Xiao said the riots in Aba and Lhasa both involved assaults, vandalism, looting and arson. Their common intention was to sabotage the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games.

    The rioters consisted of both monks and civilians, he said. "However, many civilians who were involved due to ignorance of the true nature of the incident later turned themselves in."

    "Monks are also Chinese citizens. They must act in accordance with China's constitution and laws. Any law breaker in the riot will be brought to justice."

    Those monks and civilians who were cheated into participating in the incident and later turned themselves in were released after education, he added.

    The official also refuted rumors that some schools in the region had been shut down. He said the teaching order in some schools had been disturbed after they were vandalized and looted, but the order had been restored completely by now.

    He said the violent measures taken by the rioters and the trend of the incidents that occurred in the Aba were exactly the same as riots that happened in Lhasa two days earlier when 18 innocent civilians and one policeman died.

    Riots in the two places were both conducted under political slogans to split the country and were instigated and carried out by some violent mobs as leaders, Xiao said.

    "It showed that the beating, smashing, looting and burning in Aba were not an isolated issue, but an important part of the violent destructive activities plotted and organized by the Dalai clique," he said.

    By instigating a lot of civilians who failed to understand the truth to participate in the riots, the real intention of the Dalai clique was to cause large-scale bloody conflicts, he added.

    The police exercised great restraint during the riots and handled the issue according to the law, thus making the Dalai clique's scheme fail, according to Xiao.

    He said the social order of Aba County had resumed. "Any attempt to sabotage the social order and other separatist activities are doomed to failure."

    Covering an area of 10,435 square kilometers, Aba County has a population of 64,200, of whom 89 percent are Tibetans. It lies in northwest Sichuan. It is more than 200 kilometers from the provincial capital Chengdu.

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