Tibetan monks self-immolate in anti-China protest

BEIJING (AP) - Two Tibetan monks in their early 20s set themselves on fire in protest against Chinese rule near dozens of pilgrims who had gathered for prayers to mark the end of the Tibetan New Year festival, a Tibet rights group said. Both died.

One of the monks, Tsesung Kyab, self-immolated on Monday outside a temple in Luqu county in north-western Gansu province while the other, Phagmo Dundrup, set himself ablaze on Sunday at a monastery in neighbouring Qinghai province, said the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT).

The ICT said large numbers of religious pilgrims had gathered at both monasteries for prayer ceremonies to commemorate the end of the Tibetan new year festival Losar. The group says it received images of the self-immolation in Luqu, in which pilgrims watched as Tsesung Kyab was ablaze.

The latest self-immolations bring the total since 2009 to 106.

Last week, two Tibetan teenagers set themselves on fire in a double self-immolation in Aba prefecture of Sichuan province. Seventeen-year-old Richen and his childhood friend Sonam Dargye, 18, were among the youngest to have died after staging the fiery protests.

The protests have come despite an intensified crackdown in Tibetan areas by Chinese authorities hoping to stop the self-immolations. Authorities have detained and jailed Tibetans they accuse of helping others self-immolate, an act that Beijing now considers a crime.