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Monk Is Third Tibetan Protester in a Week to Set Self Afire

FILE - A Tibetan exile sings the national anthem as he holds a banner with others showing the portraits of Tibetan self-immolators during a protest in New Delhi, April 25, 2014.

A monk set himself afire in protest Tuesday outside a security outpost in China's Sichuan province, becoming the third Tibetan to do so in the past week.

Sources told VOA that Kalsang Yeshi went to the security post outside his monastery and called for Tibetan freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama before setting himself on fire.

He was thought to have died at the scene, but Chinese security forces took his body away, so his condition wasn't certain.

The refusal of police to allow family members to know of his condition or to hand over his body for a proper funeral led to a tense situation in the area where all Internet and phone communications have been cut off.

Yeshi's protest followed those of Sangay Khar, 34, a father of two, on December 16 and Tsepey Kyi, a 20-year-old woman, on Monday.

Authorities have not commented on any of the recent self-immolations.

There have been more than 130 such acts in Tibetan areas of China since 2009. But they have been less frequent in recent months, following the imposition of fines and other penalties for families and others with close ties to self-immolators.

Last month, Tibetans in exile said a court in southwestern China gave out two- and three-year prison terms to three Tibetans for their alleged involvement in a self-immolation last year.

China has said the suicide protests are acts of terrorism.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Tibetan service.