A crowd watches shops burning in Lhasa on March 14, 2008. (AP)
Beijing, April 1 (AP): China today accused Tibetan independence forces of planning to use suicide squads to carry out bloody attacks.
However, the allegation was immediately denied by supporters of the Dalai Lama.
The accusation is the latest in a series from Chinese officials blaming recent unrest in Tibet, the most serious in almost two decades, on the Dalai Lama and his backers.
To our knowledge, the next plan of the Tibetan independence forces is to organise suicide squads to launch violent attacks, Public Security Bureau spokesman Wu Heping said at a rare news conference today. They claimed that they fear neither bloodshed nor sacrifice, Wu said.
Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama and his supporters of orchestrating anti-government riots in Lhasa on March 14 as part of a campaign to sabotage the August Beijing Olympics and promote Tibetan independence.
The 72-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner has denied the charge, condemning the violence and urging an independent international investigation into the unrest and its underlying causes.
The self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile quickly denied the charge. Tibetan exiles are 100 per cent committed to non violence. There is no question of suicide attacks. But we fear that Chinese might masquerade as Tibetans and plan such attacks to give bad publicity to Tibetans, said Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the government in exile in Dharmsala.
There is absolutely no doubt in our mind that we want to follow the non violent path, he said.
Wu gave no details of the alleged suicide squads, and the Chinese term gan si dui is sometimes translated as dare-to-die corps sometimes indicating an ultracommitted vanguard force.
However, he said police had arrested an individual who he claimed was an operative of the Dalai Lama clique, responsible for gathering intelligence and distributing pamphlets calling for an uprising.
He refused to further identify the man, citing an ongoing investigation, but said he had admitted to using code words to communicate with his contacts, including uncle for the Dalai Lama and skirts for the banned Tibetan flag.
Wu also said searches of monasteries had also turned up large numbers of weapons, including 176 guns, 13,013 bullets, 3,504 kg of explosives, two hand grenades, 19,000 sticks of dynamite and 350 knives.
Nancy Pelosi, Democratic Speaker of the US House of Representatives, says President George W. Bush should consider boycotting the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics to oppose Chinas crackdown on Tibetan protesters.
I think boycotting the opening ceremony is something that should be kept on the table, Pelosi said.