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China Says Firearms Found in Tibetan Temple

Chinese forces found firearms hidden throughout a Tibetan temple in an ethnic Tibetan area of southwestern China which has been the scene of anti-Chinese riots in recent weeks, state television said.

Police, responding to what they said was a tip-off from the public, found 30 firearms in the monastery in Aba prefecture of Sichuan province last month, state television said in a report, a transcript of which was posted on the station's Web site (www.cctv.com).

"At the time these firearms were scattered around, some were where the monks keep the scriptures," policeman Lan Bo told the programme. "They were modified semi-automatic weapons."

Aba has seen confrontations between police and Tibetan protesters who, along with Tibetans in Tibet proper, have been protesting against China's rule and calling for the return of the exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama.

Pro-Tibet protesters have also disrupted the global torch relay for the 2008 Olympic Games to be hosted by Beijing, but the torch passed through Tanzania's commercial capital of Dar Es Salaam in peace on Sunday.

The official People's Daily newspaper, accused Western media of distorting protests against the relay and playing up their scale.

The newspaper also lashed out at the European Parliament for failing to condemn the "Dalai clique", which China accuses of being behind March 14 riots in Lhasa in which it says 19 people were killed. Exiled Tibetans give a far higher death toll.

"People cannot help but ask: the European Parliament always brags about human rights and freedom, so why does it turn a deaf ear to the serious human rights abuse of attacks on and killings of innocent people in Tibet?" the newspaper said in an editorial.

Rifles and Knives

China's ambassador to Ireland walked out on a speech on Saturday in which Environment Minister John Gormley accused China of human rights abuses in Tibet.

Visiting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf opposed the West's "superimposition" of democratic values and human rights on China, state media said.

"We condemn any attempt by anyone to undermine the process of Olympic preparations, especially the Olympic torch (relay)," Musharraf told the China Daily.

The temple in which state television said the weapons were found was named by the programme in Chinese as Geerdeng.

In a recent visit to western Gansu province, officials showed reporters a film including weapons seized from demonstrators. The weapons included a few hunting rifles, many Tibetan knives, and lassos. No demonstrators shown on the films were armed.

In towns that reporters visited in the remote province, lanes running through monasteries were silent and empty, with people identified by Tibetans as undercover security agents squatting at the doors of each building.

China has accused the Dalai Lama of orchestrating the violence in Tibet and other Tibetan areas of the country.

But the Dalai Lama has rejected the accusations, speaking out against the use of violence, calling for talks with China and backing the Beijing Olympics.

Chinese media has mentioned the Dalai Lama's announced support for Beijing holding the Olympics, but has then immediately condemned him for being insincere.

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