Tibetan monks "clash" with police over Dalai Lama

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HONG KONG, Oct 21 (Reuters) Hundreds of Buddhist monks, celebrating a US award for the Dalai Lama, clashed with police for four days in the capital of Tibet, the far-west Himalayan region of China, a Hong Kong newspaper said today.

China, which reviles the Dalai Lama as a separatist, has angrily denounced the award of the Congressional Gold Medal as a ''farce'' that would hurt relations between Beijing and Washington.

After the clash, about 1,100 monks and dozens of visitors were not allowed to leave the Zhaibung monastery in Lhasa which was surrounded by 3,000 armed police, the Ming Pao newspaper said.

It did not say if there had been any arrests or injuries, but there had also been clashes at a nearby monastery and police had set up checkpoints on the main roads in the area.

It gave no further details.

Tibet has been ruled by China since communist troops invaded in 1950, and the government deals harshly with Tibetans who press for greater political and religious freedom.

US President George W Bush awarded the Dalai Lama the medal on Wednesday and called on China to open talks with him.

REUTERS SYU HT1155

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