BEIJING — A Chinese policeman shot and killed the head of a Tibetan Buddhist monastery after he and other monks demanded that police pay for medical treatment they sought after allegedly being beaten in custody, a U.S.-based broadcaster reported Saturday.
Several other people were hurt in the Sept. 14 incident in Darlag County, in the western province of Qinghai, which abuts Tibet, Radio Free Asia said, citing unidentified witnesses.
Phone calls to the police station and local office of the official Buddhist Association weren't answered Saturday. A woman who answered the phone at the police department of the prefecture that includes Darlag County said she hadn't heard about the case.
Radio Free Asia said She Tse, the head monk of the Golok Topden Monastery, went to the county police station to demand reimbursement for medical treatment of monks who were detained for two days and beaten by police in a dispute with an innkeeper.
"In the tension the police officer shot She Tse and killed him," RFA quoted an unidentified witness as saying. "Several others are injured."
It wasn't clear why the officer would be armed. Chinese police don't usually carry guns and most private gun ownership is banned, though people in rural areas are allowed to have shotguns or rifles.
Police reinforcements were brought in from surrounding areas amid reports that residents of Darlag County were planning protests, RFA said, citing unidentified sources.
The incident comes amid reports of tightened government controls on ethnic Tibetans and Buddhist religious activities in areas outside Tibet proper.
Communist troops entered Tibet in 1950, and Beijing says it has belonged to China for centuries. Many Tibetans say they had long been independent and Beijing has struggled for decades to stamp out pro-independence sentiment.
Ethnic Tibetan areas outside Tibet had long enjoyed lighter controls on religious and other activities. But a U.S. State Department report in February cited a surge in detentions in such areas, while saying the number of political prisoners in Tibet declined.