London: Chinese authorities have admitted to cutting off mobile phone and Internet connections in areas where Tibetans were shot dead last month.
In January, Tibetans rioted in the south-western province of Sichuan. According to Chinese state-media, security officials fired in self-defence after mobs of rioters attacked police and official buildings, resulting in two deaths.
Tibetan exiles and campaign groups, however, claimed that police fired at peaceful protesters and killed at least three people, The Guardian reports.
Global Times newspaper quoted a police chief of Luhuo in Ganzi, a county known to Tibetans as Drango, as saying that the police first tried to disperse rioters with high-power water guns and rubber bullets, but failed.
The paper also reported that other Tibetan-populated counties had quickly tightened security, allowing police to control the unrest in Seda, known to Tibetans as Serthar, where another Tibetan was shot dead.
“After the riots, internet connections and mobile phone signals were cut off for over 50km (30 miles) around the riot areas. Police believe external forces played a part in the riots,” the paper said.
China also recently stepped up security near monasteries and main roads in the Tibet Autonomous Region.
In 2009, China cut off Internet and text messaging services across the north-western region of Xinjiang after ethnic riots in the capital, Urumqi, left almost 200 dead.