A report that the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama has died in prison has been denied by officials. The report, broadcast on the China Freedom News Association Web site, claimed nine-year-old Tibetan Gendun Choekyi Nyima, who disappeared with his family after being identified by exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, was cremated last month. The report quoted sources close to the Gansu People's Armed Police as saying a special squad was selected to accompany a vehicle carrying the body of a 'major criminal' from the Lanzhou No 1 prison to a crematorium in the southern suburbs. The body was allegedly that of a small, emaciated child who resembled photos of the Panchen Lama. Officials at the prison denied the report. In Beijing, Ye Xiaowen, director-general of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, said the story was pure rumour. Meanwhile, police were said to have fired at 3,000 Tibetan protesters demanding the release of three monks arrested on suspicion of having contacts with the Dalai Lama's exiled government. At least 10 Tibetans were detained after the protest on Sunday in Garze, a town in a Tibetan-inhabited region of Sichuan province, the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy said. The centre, based in Dharmsala, India, where the Dalai Lama lives, said the number of casualties was not known. It did not report how many shots police fired.