Chinese security forces shot dead a Tibetan and detained six others on Wednesday as they dispersed a crowd of 1,000 Tibetans protesting against the resumption of mining operations in a county in Tibet, sources said.
The Tibetans from Choeten town in the Tibet Autonomous Region's Markham county marched to the mining site to underline their opposition to an upcoming project on environmental grounds but faced the wrath of the police, who used tear gas and live fire to disperse the crowd, the sources said.
A male protester named Nyima was killed by gunfire, said Lobsang Palden, a monk in South India, citing contacts in the region.
"He was surrounded by the security forces, and none of the Tibetans could approach him," Palden said. "Many other protesters ran away into the forest to hide and have not returned home."
Six others were detained in the protest staged by "around a thousand people from Markham's Choeten town who went to the mining sites to prevent it [the project]."
Five of those held were identified as Dawa, Atsong, Phuntsog Nyima, Jamyang Wangmo and Kelsang Yudron.
A Chinese mining company began to operate in Markham earlier this year but suspended work when Tibetan residents of Choeten, a township of about 11 villages and 3,000 residents, opposed the project, Palden said.
"Yesterday, [the Chinese] came back again, saying that mining would go ahead."
Company employees say they are building an electrical power plant and not extracting resources, "but their work site is on a forested part of the mountain, so the local people don't believe them," Palden said.
"Chinese miners also say that they are working under government orders, and that Tibetans cannot prevent this, but local Tibetans say the work is being done by Chinese private companies collaborating with local authorities."
"Tibetans in Markham have long resisted mining operations, which they believe are bad for the environment," he said.
Mining operations in Tibetan regions have led to frequent standoffs with Tibetans who accuse Chinese firms of disrupting sites of spiritual significance and polluting the environment as they extract local wealth.
Last year, China's official media reported that investment in exploration of mineral resources in the Tibet Autonomous Region will be accelerated over a five-year period.
Tibet has large proven and potential reserves of vital deposits but little exploration has been done so far, Xinhua news agency reported
Initial studies show that the Tibet Autonomous Region has China's largest chromium and copper reserves, while most of its rich iron, gold, silver, potassium, oil and natural gas reserves remain unexploited, the report said.
Reported by RFA's Tibetan service. Translated by Dorjee Damdul. Written in English by Richard Finney and Parameswaran Ponnudurai.