Journalists from outside mainland's borders make first visit since deadly Tibet riots The first group of Hong Kong and foreign media to visit Tibet since riots broke out there this month arrived in Lhasa yesterday for a three-day tour that was strictly controlled by officials. The tour was organised after Premier Wen Jiabao said that China would allow journalists to visit the battered city to report on the riots and their aftermath. The 26 reporters were accompanied by officials from the State Information Office, Foreign Ministry, Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Taiwan Affairs Office and local officials from the Tibet Autonomous Region government. From Beijing via Chengdu to Lhasa, officials who accompanied the reporters repeatedly reminded them not to venture out on their own for their own safety. Officials in Lhasa told reporters that there was no curfew in the city although some traffic controls remained at night. The press group was given a carefully planned schedule for the visit, including trips to areas destroyed by rioters, and interviews with victims and policemen injured in the riots, in which 18 civilians and a policeman died, according to official figures. Yesterday afternoon, the group was allowed to visit the main square in front of Potala Palace - which was reopened to the public yesterday - for about half an hour. Some reporters seized the opportunity to interview several local residents who were taking a stroll, although it appeared that there were more plainclothes policemen than residents in the square. Most interviewees said the city was basically calm now. However, two young Tibetan dancers were asked to leave the square by plainclothes policemen after they were interviewed by a Hong Kong journalist. A Tibetan woman, who had taken her elderly mother and young daughter for a stroll in the square, said the centre of the rioting - an area near Barkhor Street - remained deserted at night. A quick tour on the bus to areas hardest hit by the riots, such as Beijing Road, showed the extent of the damage, with burned shops nestling between closed ones. A local official escorting the tour said shops now closed early. The presence of police was not as heavy as expected, although paramilitary officers and police cars could still be seen at airports and major crossroads. No People's Liberation Army soldiers were seen. The city looked almost surreal with the absence of tourists in what is normally a popular tourist destination. Last night, the group of reporters was shown a video, which included previously unseen footage of the riots. Part of the video was edited from footage taken by surveillance cameras on March 14 - the first day of the major rioting - and some was filmed the next day. The video appeared intended to drive home the authorities' message that the riots were brutal and carefully planned. It showed Tibetans - armed with knives and clubs - gathered in back alleys. In one part, a young man jumped onto a police car to provoke the crowd to set fire to vehicles. Many of the rioters appeared to be young men, but teenagers in school uniforms were also seen joining them. Although the government's message was clear that the riots were premeditated, the video showed no proof of how the rioters made their plans, or collected or distributed their weapons. The video focused on the violence and damage done by the rioters. And during the critical hours - from 1pm to 3pm on March 14, the surveillance camera footage showed no policemen at the scenes of rioting.