Tibet riot death toll at 18

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 has blamed 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 Sichuan said they believed police had killed several people in anti-Chinese riots there this week, disputing official claims that none died.

The unrest has alarmed China, keen to look its best in the run-up to the August 8-24 Olympic Games in Beijing when it hopes 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. Some 58 were seriously wounded.

Police in Tibet issued a notice last Saturday, urging rioters to give themselves up. The number had climbed to 183 by Friday.

The Public Security Bureau of Lhasa has issued a “most wanted” list for 21 suspects and posted their pictures on the Internet.

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