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Tue, 27 Oct 2009 11:32 - Updated Tue, 27 Oct 2009 11:32

2 Tibetans executed in China over riots last year

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Beijing - Two people have been put to death for their roles in deadly protests last year in the Chinese-controlled region of Tibet, the first known executions for the violence, an overseas monitoring group said Tuesday.

China confirmed the executions but gave no details.

Lobsang Gyaltsen and Loyak, who goes by one name, were sentenced to death in April on charges relating to "starting fatal fires," according to the International Campaign for Tibet, a Washington-based advocacy group.

The group said the Tibetans were executed in the regional capital of Lhasa but did not say when. Other Tibetan rights groups have said the executions were carried out last Tuesday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu confirmed the two executions when asked about them by reporters, but he refused to give details. The International Campaign for Tibet said its information came from the British Foreign Office, which was notified by the Chinese Embassy in London.

Tibetans attacked Chinese migrants and shops in Lhasa in anti-government riots in March 2008 and torched parts of the city's commercial district.

Chinese officials say 22 people died, but Tibetans say many times that number were killed.

The violence in Lhasa and protests in Tibetan communities across western China were the most sustained unrest in the region since the late 1980s.

Tibetan resentment against Chinese rule has been fueled by religious restrictions and competition for resources with migrants from the Han Chinese majority. Similar grievances fed ethnic rioting this year in the neighboring heavily Muslim region of Xinjiang that left nearly 200 dead.