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Two Tibetans self-immolate in Lhasa: is protest spreading?

Two Tibetans set themselves on fire Sunday in the first such protests against Chinese rule in Lhasa, the tightly controlled Tibetan capital. At least 34 Tibetans have self-immolated since March 2011.

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Two Tibetans set themselves on fire outside a Buddhist temple in Lhasa, the first of a series of self-immolation protests against Chinese rule over Tibet to take place in the regional capital, Radio Free Asia reported on Monday.

The broadcaster said the two Tibetans were taken away by security forces who quickly cleared the area where the immolations took place on Sunday in front of the Jokhang Temple, a key pilgrimage site and tourist destination in the heart of Lhasa.

The city was "filled with police and paramilitary forces and the situation is very tense" in the wake of the self-immolations, the US government-sponsored broadcaster quoted an unidentified source in Lhasa as saying.

At least 34 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since March 2011 in protest against China's six-decade rule over Tibet, according to Tibetan rights groups. At least 24 have died.

Beijing has branded the self-immolators "terrorists" and criminals and has blamed exiled Tibetans and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, for inciting them.

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