Thousands of Chinese security forces have flooded into an ethnically Tibetan area of southwestern China following large protests that led to violent, sometimes deadly, clashes with the police.
Amid anger and despair over Chinese rule, a series of recent self-immolations by Tibetans has spurred the unrest in the region ahead of the Tibetan New Year next month.
In an effort to contain the situation, China has sent in reinforcements to try to impose order on the scenic Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province. State media has also reported that outside rights groups and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, are to blame for the troubles.
The violence appears to be the worst between ethnic Tibetans and the Chinese authorities since 2008, when deadly unrest in the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, left at least 22 people dead.
Four hours west of the Sichuan capital of Chengdu, on the craggy mountain roads leading to Ganzi, police officers stopped all cars trying to enter the region over the weekend, checking identification papers and turning away reporters and those with foreign passports.
When asked why CNN reporters were not allowed to pass, a police officer said: "Don't you know what has happened there? It's not safe and you must leave."
Chinese residents in a local village near the checkpoint told CNN that police forces arrived Thursday, two days earlier than expected because of the tense situation in Ganzi, which borders Tibet and is home to a population that is nearly 80% ethnically Tibetan.FULL STORY