China imposed martial law today on the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, and an American tourist said thousands of soldiers flooded the city to begin a massive crackdown on three days of bloody protests.
At midnight, jeeps carrying loudspeakers sped through the city ordering residents to stay inside and informing them that martial law had begun, said the tourist, contacted by telephone from Beijing.
Soon thereafter, 31 trucks carrying soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army sped into the city, said the American, who is from New Orleans.
The soldiers were deployed at “designated places,” the official New China News Agency said.
“Soldiers were patrolling in the streets,” said the report quoting from Maj. Gen. Zhang Shaosong, political commissar of the Tibet regional military command.
Earlier, Tibetan activists attacked Chinese, ransacked their stores and stoned government buildings as part of demonstrations calling for an end to Chinese rule in the remote mountain area. Although there were no reports of deaths today, unofficial accounts said up to 75 people were killed and 300 injured in three days of violence.
Until the soldiers arrived, police had been trying to keep order, clearing the streets and threatening to shoot anyone found in the central square.
“There’s a lot of sirens going and a lot of troop movement outside. I can hear soldiers pounding on doors,” the American said.