China 'confirms' death of self-immolation Tibet nun

There are large communities of ethnic Tibetans in Sichuan province
Image caption There are large communities of ethnic Tibetans in Sichuan province

A Tibetan nun has been confirmed dead after setting herself alight in south-western China, officials say, in the latest apparent protest against rule from Beijing.

State news agency Xinhua identified the nun in Aba prefecture, Sichuan province as 19-year-old Tenzin Choedron.

Rights groups say she had shouted slogans against the Chinese government before self-immolating on Saturday.

At least 20 Tibetans have reportedly self-immolated over the last year.

According to rights groups, the nun was from the Mamae nunnery, which has a reputation for being loyal to Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Xinhua reported that she died on the way to the hospital on Saturday evening.

"Soldiers surrounded the nunnery and sealed it off, and nothing more is known of the situation inside," Kanyag Tsering, a monk based in Dharamsala, India, where the Tibetan government-in-exile is based, was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying.

Most of the cases of monks and nuns setting themselves alight have been in Aba county, an ethnic Tibetan area of Sichuan. The Tibetan-populated parts of China are experiencing their worst unrest in four years, ahead of the Tibetan new year on 22 February.

Chinese authorities have recently launched a major security operation to try and end the unrest.

On 9 February, it was reported that four officials in the regional government were sacked for "endangering stability", after the government earlier warned that they had to maintain order or face dismissal or criminal charges.

The incident follows a series of deadly protests against Chinese rule in the province since January. Last month, three protests were also reported.

International media are denied access to the area, making it difficult to verify accounts.

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