Armed police were stationed throughout the capital of Chinese-controlled Tibet and blocked roads to the eastern part of the region, Hong Kong tourists said Friday, in the latest sign of tensions ahead of next week's anniversary of anti-government riots.
Paramilitary officers were spotted all over Lhasa and the atmosphere was "tense," a 33-year-old Hong Kong traveler told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
Tensions have been high in Tibet and Tibetan-inhabited regions in western China in the run-up to several anniversaries this month, including the 50th anniversary of a failed 1959 uprising during which Tibet's traditional Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, fled into exile in India.
The tourist was one of three backpackers from Hong Kong whom police stopped and confiscated travel documents from Wednesday on the edge of Bayi town, 300 kilometers (186 miles) east of Lhasa. The man, an engineer, identified himself only by his surname Chu because he was still in Tibet and feared retaliation from the authorities.
Chu said the three were questioned for four hours about the purpose of their visit and then told they could not enter Bayi for security reasons. They were escorted back to Lhasa the next day. He said seven mainland tourists traveling with them were allowed to visit the town.
"If the authorities don't want us to visit, they shouldn't have allowed us to enter Tibet at all," he said.
The region has been mostly sealed off to journalists and foreigners for at least a month, though Hong Kong residents are allowed to travel to Tibet without a special permit.
This report was provided by AP.