Two people died in a Tibetan area of Sichuan after they were injured by police gunfire while protesting against the detention of a local leader, overseas Tibetan rights groups said.
One protester committed suicide on Sunday in police custody in the town of Louxu, while another died the same day from untreated wounds, the British-based group Free Tibet and the US-based International Campaign for Tibet said.
Police in Ganzi prefecture, where Louxu is located, did not answer phone calls yesterday.
The Communist Party office there would not comment on the reports.
The International Campaign for Tibet identified the protester who killed himself as Lo Palsang and said he was denouncing a crackdown on local Tibetans.
The group said police opened fire on August 12 on about 100 protesters who were upset about police treatment of people in the area.
It said police had also rounded up young men in the district, which had been the scene of repeated violence.
About 200 people have been detained by the police, according to Free Tibet.
Such reports were difficult to confirm in the tightly controlled area, but Ganzi, also known as Garze in Tibetan, appeared to be seeing more unrest, said Barry Sautman, a social science professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology who studies ethnic minorities on the mainland.
However, the wave of protesters in Tibetan areas setting themselves on fire appeared to be diminishing, he said.
"It probably means that Garze continues to be an area where there's the most likelihood of confrontation between the authorities and local people," Sautman said.
"In the Tibet autonomous region, there's nowhere near the level of manifested discontent as there is in Garze."
Rights activists say Beijing suppresses religious freedom and culture in Tibet.
Beijing rejects the allegations, saying its rule ended serfdom and brought development to a backward, poverty-stricken region.
More than 100 Tibetans have set themselves alight in protest against Beijing's rule since 2009, mostly in the heavily Tibetan areas of Sichuan, Gansu and Qinghai provinces.