CNN 3/14/08 Story Highlights
Riots break out in Tibetan capital, Lhasa, as police attempt to block protests
Witness describes gunfire, tear gas, vehicles and shops on fire
Rioters appeared to target Han Chinese, witness tells CNN
Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, calls for calm, dialogue
(CNN) -- Opponents of Chinese rule in Tibet set fire to vehicles and shops on Friday as tear gas filled the streets and gunfire rang out in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, according to witnesses and human rights groups.
Tibetans throw stones at army vehicles as a car burns on a street in the capital Lhasa.
1 of 3 The protests -- initiated by Buddhist monks -- have been growing since Monday, the anniversary of the failed 1959 Tibetan uprising against Beijing rule. Tibet, an autonomous province, has long sought independence from China.
Roughly 1,000 people hurled rocks and concrete at security forces and military trucks pushing back riot police, a witness told CNN.
Chinese bloggers and U.S.-based human rights groups said Chinese security forces had sealed off the three main monasteries around Lhasa after the violence broke out.
The bloggers also said police wearing armored vests were moving toward Lhasa in armored personnel carriers.
In a statement, the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader and the head of the Tibetan government in exile, said he was "deeply concerned" by the developing situation and said the protests were "a manifestation of the deep-rooted resentment of the Tibetan people" under Chinese rule.
Chinese authorities have blamed the Dalai Lama, exiled since 1959, for the unrest.
"I appeal to the Chinese leadership to stop using force and address the long-simmering resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue. I also urge my fellow Tibetans not to resort to violence," the Dalai Lama said.
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