BEIJING — Police arrested nearly 100 monks after hundreds of Tibetans attacked a police station and government officials in northwestern China, state media reported.
All but two of the 95 arrested Sunday were monks, the official Xinhua News Agency said.
The Tibetans were arrested for their involvement in a violent protest Saturday apparently triggered by the disappearance of a Tibetan who escaped from police custody in Qinghai province, Xinhua said.
A Tibetan exile said the protest involved as many as 2,000 people and was sparked by the apparent suicide of a monk under investigation for unfurling a Tibetan flag.
Xinhua said several hundred people _ including nearly 100 monks from the Ragya Monastery _ attacked the police station in Ragya, a township in the Tibetan prefecture of Golog, on Saturday, assaulting policemen and government staff.
Some officials were injured slightly in the assault, Xinhua said, without elaborating.
A man who answered the phone at Qinghai's public security department said he had not heard about the attack or the arrests. Phone calls to other police departments and government offices in the area rang unanswered.
Xinhua said the unrest Saturday began after a man accused of supporting Tibetan independence escaped from police custody in Ragya and disappeared, Xinhua said.
A former resident of the area who lives in Dharmsala, India, said the protesters were angry because they believed the man, a 28-year-old monk named Tashi Sangpo, fled then committed suicide by jumping in the Yellow River.
"When Tashi was being interrogated by the officials, he asked their permission to go to the toilet. He then went out and jumped into the Yellow River," he said on condition of anonymity, citing fear of reprisals against his family still living in China. "The dead body is yet to be found."
The exile, who said he received the information from people in Ragya, said 500 monks from the monastery protested outside the local administration office and the group swelled to about 2,000 as others from the village joined.
He said Tashi Sangpo was being investigated by police because he unfurled a Tibetan flag on the roof of the monastery on March 10, the anniversary of the start of a 1959 abortive Tibetan revolt against Chinese rule, and distributed pamphlets on the street urging unified protests against Chinese rule. The Tibetan flag is banned in China.
It was difficult to independently verify the account because government departments could not be reached Sunday. Communication is also spotty in the areas and residents usually will not talk for fear of official retaliation.
Dharmsala is the seat of the Dalai Lama's self-proclaimed government-in-exile and the destination of many Tibetans who flee China.
Security in Tibetan areas has been tightened in recent weeks as Beijing tried to head off trouble ahead of sensitive anniversaries this month. March 14 marked the one-year anniversary of anti-government riots in Lhasa, Tibet's regional capital, while March 17 marked 50 years since the Dalai Lama escaped into exile in India after Chinese troops crushed the Tibetan revolt.
China claims Tibet has always been part of its territory, but many Tibetans say the Himalayan region was virtually independent for centuries and that Beijing's tight control is draining them of their culture and identity.
Associated Press writer Ashwini Bhatia in Dharmsala, India, contributed to this report.