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Nepal police break up Tibet protests, 284 held

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - Nepali police beat pro-Tibet protesters with sticks in Kathmandu on Monday and detained more than 280 people for demonstrating against China, police and officials said, hinting at a bigger crackdown on protesters.

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Hundreds of Tibetans split up into small groups and tried to storm a Chinese consular office from different directions in the Nepali capital.

In what has become a familiar sight in Kathmandu in recent weeks, they waved signs and shouted slogans demanding independence for their Himalayan homeland, only to face beatings and detention.

The government later said it might have to take sterner action to ban such protests altogether, because of a commitment made to Beijing to prevent anti-China activities on Nepalese soil.

“We may have to think to stop all these activities against China,” said Modraj Dotel, a spokesman for the Home Ministry. “They talk against China. They raise anti-China slogans and carry placards and banners against China.”

Exiled Tibetans have been protesting regularly ever since a deadly riot broke out in the Tibetan capital Lhasa on March 14 followed by demonstrations in other Tibetan areas of China.

Many Tibetans are furious over the crackdown against protesters in Tibet and resent China’s decades-old rule of the Himalayan region.

The Lhasa riot broke out after days of protests centered on the anniversary of the failed 1959 Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule.

In Kathmandu, police broke up the rallies, grabbed the protesters by their arms or clothes and hauled them into iron-meshed vans or trucks.

“We want full freedom for Tibet,” 40-year-old Sonam Dolma said. “Until then we will continue to protest and make the world listen to our voice.”

Police said at least 284 men and women had been detained and would be freed later.

“They have been detained according to the government policy of not allowing demonstrations against China,” said Bibhutiraj Pandey, a police officer from the scene.

More than 20,000 ethnic Tibetans live in Nepal.

Nepal, which gets development grants from the Chinese government, accepts Tibet as part of China.

Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Bappa Majumdar and Sanjeev Miglani