China names law official to run Sichuan Tibetan area

File photo of Sichuan province
Image caption Tibetan-populated parts of China are experiencing their worst unrest in four years

The Chinese government has appointed a career legal official to run Aba prefecture in Sichuan province, amid increasing protests in the Tibetan area.

Liu Zuoming, who previously headed the Sichuan province justice bureau, took up the post of Communist Party secretary of Aba on Saturday.

The 54-year-old has a track record of almost 30 years in law enforcement.

The area has seen increased protests and a spate of self-immolations.

Aba is home to the Tibetan Buddhist Kirti monastery. On Tuesday, activists said a 19-year-old monk, Lobsang Gyatso, set himself on fire in the area.

On Monday, China confirmed that a Tibetan nun died on Saturday, also in Aba county, after setting herself on fire.

In the last year, at least 21 young Tibetans have set themselves on fire in apparent protest against Beijing's rule.

'Strong enforcement'

At a gathering of officials over the weekend, Mr Liu urged the region to unite in efforts towards ''development and security'' for the area, said a report on the official Sichuan news portal.

The objectives, mission and direction of work to be done in the region were clear, he added. The ''crux of the matter'' lay in ''strong enforcement'', he said, suggesting a hard-line stand against the unrest.

Correspondents say Tibetan-populated parts of China are experiencing their worst unrest in four years, with at least three deadly demonstrations reported in January.

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

Officials in the restive area are under increasing pressure from the government to contain the protests.

Last week, the Chinese Communist Party chief in Tibet sacked four officials for ''endangering stability'' in the region, Chinese state media reported. They were alleged to have left their posts in the Chamdo region during the Lunar New Year.

The regional government had issued a warning to officials to maintain stability or face dismissal or criminal charges.

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