China denies using lethal force to quell Tibet riots
China on Monday denied using lethal force to quell violent protests in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, saying security personnel did not fire any gunshots.
"Throughout the process (security forces) did not carry or use any lethal weapons," the chairman of Tibet's government, Qiangba Puncog, said at a press conference to discuss the days of protests against China's rule of Tibet.
"I can tell you as a responsible official that guns were absolutely not fired. The PLA was not involved at all in dealing with incident," he said, referring to China's People's Liberation Army.
He added that the PLA were only involved after the riots had taken place to clean up the city and help maintain order.
Qiangba said that Tibetan rioters had burned or hacked to death 13 "innocent civilians" during violent protests on Friday in Lhasa, raising an earlier toll of 10 dead reported by state media.
Tibet's government-in-exile said on the weekend that 80 Tibetans had been confirmed killed, and that possibly more than 100 had died.
Foreigners who flew out of Lhasa said they had heard gunfire throughout Friday and Saturday in the capital.
Witnesses in Lhasa reported a massive security presence in place on Sunday, as Hong Kong television footage showed heavily armed security forces patrolling the city.
The protests against Chinese rule, which started on the anniversary of a suppressed uprising in 1959, have since spread outside the Tibetan region to other parts of China, pro-Tibet groups and witnesses have said. (AFP)
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