British newspaper bashed for untruthful reporting over monks' death

by Amber Yao, Xinhua News, July 23, 2008

CHENGDU, China -- A report carried by London-based The Times on July 18 saying two monks in a temple in Garze, a Tibetan-inhabited region in southwest China's Sichuan Province, were shot dead by armed police was fabricated, an anonymous Chinese official has said.

The comment was given by an unnamed authority with the information office of the Sichuan Provincial Government.

Investigations showed there has been no clash between monks and the armed police on July 12 in temples throughout the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze, said the official.

Two monks at Gonchen Monastery in Derge county did die that day in a house blast in the monastery, but not being killed by armed police after they were in dispute with the officials, as the British newspaper reported in an article entitled "Chinese impose blackout over new Tibetan monk deaths".

The source of information for the report carried by The Times was said to be given by three anonymous Tibetans. The report even described the incident as the first case in recent times of "lethal use of gunfire against Tibetan protesters demanding...independence".

The official described the details about the truth behind the death of the two monks.

A house in the northern part of Gonchen Monastery exploded at midday July 12 when six monks were having lunch on the first floor. Three monks escaped, but the others were buried.

Two later died of severe injuries. The identities of the dead are not immediately known.

The collapse was caused by an explosion of black powder kept inthe house. And explosion was caused as a short circuit in a worn-out electrical wire produced sparks, which ignited black powder stored there.

It was also disclosed that the temple had broken safety rules in storing 716 kg of black powder. This was used periodically in Buddhist rituals.

The two monks were buried on July 16.

Following the blast, the temple transferred its remaining black powder and 29 guns used for Buddhist rituals to the county explosive warehouse and the public security authorities.