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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

China mum on film showing troops killing refugee

China has refused to comment about video footage showing Chinese troops killing an unarmed Tibetan who was fleeing into Nepal, after earlier insisting the action was in self-defence.

"The competent authorities have already released information, I have no further information for you as a spokesperson of the foreign ministry," Liu Jianchao told journalists at a regular briefing.

China's official Xinhua news agency admitted on Thursday of last week that its soldiers killed one person and injured another near Mount Everest, but said they were acting in self-defence.

Xinhua said the soldiers tried to persuade the group to go back home "but the stowaways refused and attacked the soldiers".

But a Romanian TV station on Saturday released a video that it said showed Chinese troops shooting the two unarmed Tibetan refugees as they fled. The two were among a group of around 70 Tibetans trying to flee into Nepal.

The video footage from Pro TV's website depicts a line of Tibetans walking through the snow on the Nangpa La Pass when a shot is heard and one person in the group falls to the ground.

A narrator says the Romanian cameraman who witnessed the incident was one km away from the Tibetans when the shooting occurred.

"Everybody can see a Chinese soldier standing in the shooting position, he opens fire, the bullets hit human flesh, Tibetans fall to the ground, one of them seems to escape the bullet but is hit by a second round," the narrator says.

"I don't know what right the Chinese think they have to do things like this ... there is no need to kill," one unidentified climber told Pro TV.

A US-based rights group, the International Campaign for Tibet, identified the person who died as 25-year-old Tibetan nun Kelsang Namtso.

The United States has lodged an official protest to China over the incident.

The footage, when aired inside China to the mainly foreign business and residential buildings that have access to CNN, was repeatedly blacked out by China's censors today.

It received no mention in the domestic, state controlled press.

China has ruled Tibet since it sent in the military to "liberate" the Himalayan region in 1950.

International rights groups accuse the Chinese of ruling Tibet through repression and military intimidation. AFP
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