Chinese authorities shot dead as many as five Tibetans and seriously wounded 40 others on Tuesday in the second day of bloodshed as protests escalated in the troubled Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) prefecture in Sichuan province, local sources said.
A crackdown has been launched in Serthar (in Chinese, Seda) county where the incident occurred, with about 40 protesters detained and all public movements limited, the sources said.
"A kind of martial law has been imposed," a local resident, calling himself Ganta, told RFA.
"Tibetans are confined to their homes as the Chinese police fire on anyone who ventures outside in the streets," another local source said.
Local sources identified two of the dead, saying as many as five could have been gunned down by security forces. Authorities in Serthar could not be contacted as telephone calls to various county offices were not picked up.
Tibet's India-based exile government, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), also said that up to five Tibetans may have been killed.
"Local sources have confirmed that three demonstrators were shot dead," it said.
CTA head Lobsang Sangay appealed to the international community "to intervene to prevent further bloodshed."
"How long and how many tragic deaths are necessary before the world takes a firm moral stand? Silence from the world community sends a clear message to China that its repressive and violent measures to handle tensions in Tibetan areas are acceptable," he said.
The United States, which will host China's Vice President Xi Jinping at the White House next month, also expressed grave concern over the latest violence, urging Beijing to address "counterproductive policies" in Tibetan areas that have created tensions and threatened Tibetans' religious, cultural, and linguistic identity.
China should resume talks with the Dalai Lama or his representatives over Tibetan grievances, U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Maria Otero said in a statement.
"We urge Chinese security forces to exercise restraint, and we renew our call to allow access to Tibetan areas of China for journalists, diplomats, and other observers," she said.
A third source in Serthar said police have sealed all the county's exit points. "The hotels, shops, and other businesses in the town were ordered shut and the situation is extremely tense."
Sources said local residents dare not take the seriously injured for immediate medical treatment due to the security situation.
The shooting came a day after at least six Tibetans were believed killed and more than 30 others injured when security forces fired on protesters in Draggo (in Chinese, Luhuo) county—also in the Kardze prefecture—Tibetan sources in the region and in exile said.
Some 36 wounded from the Draggo shooting are seeking shelter in the county's monastery, which is surrounded by Chinese security forces, local sources said. "Twelve of them are in very critical condition with some having bullets embedded in their head," one source in the area said.
The Chinese foreign ministry has questioned the account of the Draggo incident by advocacy groups, saying they were hyped and that the clashes had stemmed from a mob going on a rampage on stores and a police station.
"Overseas forces of 'Tibet independence' have always fabricated rumors and distorted the truth to discredit the Chinese government with issues involving Tibet," ministry spokesman Hong Lei was cited as saying by the state Xinhua news agency.
The killings in Draggo and Serthar have raised tensions in Tibetan-populated regions of China following a wave of self-immolation protests beginning in March 2011 against rule by Beijing.
The incident in Serthar on Tuesday was sparked by protests that began on Monday with posters calling for more self-immolations and cautioning Tibetans not to allow the bodies of those who set themselves ablaze to be taken away by Chinese security forces, the sources said.
"Leaflets containing the Tibetan national flag and slogans such as 'Long live the Dalai Lama,' 'Shame on China,' and 'Victory to Tibet' were scattered during the protests," the first source said.
Tibetans in the Kardze area, the Tibetan area of Kham, are renowned for their strong sense of Tibetan identity and nationalism, the International Campaign for Tibet said.
"[They] have risked their lives on numerous occasions through demonstrations, prayer vigils, and solitary protests, in order to convey their loyalty to [Tibet's spiritual leader] the Dalai Lama and their anguish at the repression since March 2008," it said.
Protests were also reported in neighboring Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) prefecture as several hundred monks and lay-Tibetans sat along a road crossing to speak out against Chinese rule.
"The laypersons took off their upper clothes and remained half naked reciting mantras and eating [roasted barley] in protest," one source said.
"They marched to the main town in Meruma and when the Chinese police tried to block them, they refused to stop and marched ahead," the source said.
"Then the recitation [of mantras] turned into slogans, calling for the long life of the Dalai Lama and freedom for Tibet."
Tibetans who tried to attend a 15-day special prayer at the Kirti monastery in Ngaba were also stopped and beaten by Chinese security forces, the source said.
Tensions in the Tibet Autonomous Region and in Tibetan-populated areas in China's provinces have not subsided since anti-China protests swept through the Tibetan Plateau in March 2008.
Chinese authorities have blamed the Dalai Lama for the tense situation, saying he is encouraging the self-immolations, which run contrary to Buddhist teachings.
But the Dalai Lama blamed China's "ruthless and illogical" policy toward Tibet.
He called on the Chinese government to change its "repressive" policies in Tibet, citing the crackdown on monasteries and policies curtailing the use of the Tibetan language.
Reported by Thakla Gyal, Lobsang Choephel, and Rigdhen Dolma for RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Karma Dorjee, Dorjee Damdul, and Rigdhen Dolma. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.