BEIJING -- Two Tibetan monks set themselves on fire in a western Chinese city in the latest in a wave of self-immolations protesting against Chinese rule, exiled monks and a Tibet advocacy group said.
The conditions of the two monks were not known after the simultaneous immolations Friday in Maerkang, London-based Free Tibet said. The exiled monks in Dharmsala, India, said one protester died, and police took him and the other monk to a government hospital to prevent them from becoming a focus of larger demonstrations.
The monks, identified as Tenpa Darjey and Chimey Palden, came from a monastery 80 kilometers (50 miles) away. When fellow clergy learned of the immolations, they set out for the city only to be blocked by police about halfway there, said the exiles, Losang Yeshe and Kanyag Tsering.
Police and government offices in Maerkang, which is known to Tibetans as Barkham, either declined comment or said they had not heard about the protest when reached by phone Saturday.
If confirmed, they would bring to more than 30 the immolations staged in a little more than a year to protest the increasingly heavy security and intrusive controls on the Buddhist religious practices that are at the center of Tibetan life. Many of those burning themselves are monks and nuns, who have long been in the forefront of protests against China's often heavy-handed rule of Tibet.
One of the monks in Friday's immolation, Chimey Palden, had been detained for a month in 2010 while visiting Lhasa, the exiled monks and Free Tibet said. Police searched him and found a photo of the exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, a Tibetan national flag and a nationalist song recorded on his mobile phone, said the exiled monks.