Fire Razes Peoples Hall in Sichuan, Arson Suspected


2005-01-04
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WASHINGTON—A fire has destroyed a local government building in a traditionally Tibetan area of southwest China, and sources say arsonists may have set the blaze to protest Chinese rule in the region..

"On Dec. 23 between 1 and 2 a.m., the Karze Prefecture People's Congress Hall was completely burnt down," said one of the sources who asked not to be named. "Some posters and fliers in support of Tibetan independence had been strewn around the area," the source said.

Posters and fliers were pasted even on the Buddhist stupas located near the hall. The local Karze officials suspected separatist elements but so far no arrests have been made.

The fire occurred during periodic meetings of the People's Congress of Karze Prefecture in Sichuan Province, although no one appears to have been inside the building at the time of the blaze, sources said.

"Posters and fliers were pasted even on the Buddhist stupas [prayer sites] located near the hall. The local Karze officials suspected separatist elements but so far no arrests have been made," one person said.

During their December meeting, Karze Prefecture People's Congress delegates were said to have been discussing ways to crack down on separatists opposed to Chinese rule.

Police confirmed the incident to RFA's Tibetan service but declined to discuss details of the investigation. No casualties were reported.

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