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Bomb blast in Tibetan area of China

Assailants threw a bomb into a newly built police station in a Tibetan area in western China, a police official said today, the 50th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's escape into exile in India after Chinese troops crushed a Tibetan revolt. No injuries were reported.

The incident came amid heightened tensions and security during a volatile month that also included the one-year anniversary of anti-government riots on 14 March in Lhasa, Tibet's regional capital.

The explosion just after midnight shattered windows at the station in Bogexi, a town in the predominantly Tibetan Ganzi prefecture, said Liu Xiaojun, a police official.

The building was not yet occupied and an investigation was under way, said Liu, who works at the public security bureau in Batang county, which oversees the town. Batang, in Sichuan province's far west, is about five miles from the Tibetan border.

The state-run China Daily newspaper blamed "terrorists" for the blast, a term Chinese officials have used to characterise followers of the Dalai Lama. No other details were provided in the report.

Bombings have previously occurred in Tibetan areas. Beijing has portrayed them as being part of a campaign of violence by the Dalai Lama and his supporters to overthrow Chinese rule, although authorities have provided little evidence to support the allegation.

Last April, state media reported that 16 Tibetan Buddhist monks were arrested for their alleged involvement in a series of attempts to blow up an electricity substation, a police post and a fuel depot in eastern Tibet. No injuries were reported in the bombings, some of which failed, state media said.

Ganzi, a rugged, deeply Buddhist region filled with monasteries and nunneries, is known for its strong Tibetan identity and has been at the centre of dissent for years. It saw some of the most violent protests last spring.

The unrest last year in Lhasa was triggered when monks staging a peaceful commemoration of the aborted 10 March, 1959, uprising were blockaded by police. It spread to three other provinces in western China — Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai — and was the most sustained and widespread Tibetan uprising in decades.

China responded by flooding the region with troops, and Tibetan rights groups reported that many monks and nuns were detained or arrested and monasteries were put under tight watch.