Tibet riot death toll at 18

22/03/2008 - 2:38

BEIJING (Reuters) - Eighteen civilians and a policeman were killed in anti-Chinese rioting that rocked the Tibetan capital of Lhasa last week, the regional government said.

The official death toll in the violence, which China hasblamed on the region's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama,had been 13. Exiled Tibetans say as many as 100 people died.

Tibetans in China's tense southwestern province of Sichuansaid they believed police had killed several people inanti-Chinese riots there this week, disputing official claimsthat none died.

The unrest has alarmed China, keen to look its best in therun-up to the August 8-24 Olympic Games in Beijing when ithopes to show the world that it has arrived as a world power.

In the rioting in Lhasa, "241 police officers were injured,23 critically, and one police officer was killed by the mob,"the government in a statement carried by Xinhua.

The number of injured civilian rose to 382 from 325. Some58 were seriously wounded.

Police in Tibet issued a notice last Saturday, urgingrioters to give themselves up. The number had climbed to 183 byFriday.

The Public Security Bureau of Lhasa has issued a "mostwanted" list for 21 suspects and posted their pictures on theInternet.

Tensions remain high in Tibet, Sichuan and otherneighbouring areas where the government has poured in troops.

(Reporting by Nick Macfie; Editing by David Fox)

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