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20 march 2012 001DHARAMSHALA: Following two successive self-immolation incidents in neighbouring Rebgong on 16 and 17 March, thousands of Tibetans took to the street in Sogdzong in northeastern Tibet's Malho region to protest against the Chinese government.

Around 2,000 Tibetans led by monks from the Tsang monastery held peaceful protest in Malho on 18 March, shouting slogans for the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama from exile and freedom in Tibet.

After about an hour of protest, armed police and paramilitary forces arrived and arrested 17 Tibetans for allegedly instigating the protest.

Eyewitnesses said other protesters went to the police station to demand their release. They broke the main gate of the police station and called for more protests if the arrested Tibetans are not released. Finally at around 5 pm, the 17 Tibetans were released. But the local Tibetans fear that they might be rearrested.

The region is now under heavy military lockdown.

Following the incident two vehicles carrying around 70 monks from Tsang monastery arrived at Sogdzong. But they were forcibly blocked by the police and security forces.

Though schools in Sogdzong usually close at 5:00 pm, but on that day students were held till 8:30 pm.

A large number of military convoys carrying continue to arrive in the region.

The main Sogdzong town and the surrounding roads are occupied by police and security forces.

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