At least seven ethnic-Tibetan protesters were detained in western China after hundreds of villagers staged five days of protests against mining on their sacred mountain, according to a source familiar with the matter. The protests in Amchock township in Xiahe county in a Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Gansu province started on Tuesday last week, the source said. A local government statement confirmed the protests had occurred and that some demonstrators were held. Chinese province orders crackdown on portraits of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama Photographs taken by local villagers show protesters holding banners with Tibetan slogans in the mountainous area, plus gathering at a mine site, marching down a town street and sitting outside the local government building. A large number of policemen, including paramilitary police, were deployed to contain protesters. Seven were seized, among whom two were beaten by the police during arrest and suffered relatively serious injuries, according to the source. All seven protesters had been released by Wednesday morning and the demonstrators have dispersed, but a heavy police presence remained in the town, the source said. Life on Tibet plateau captured by veteran Hong Kong photographer Kan Tai Wong The sacred mountain, known as “A Myes Gong Sngon,” is the highest peak in the township, worshipped by eight local tribes. The villagers allege that some local gold miners have been operating on the mountain illegally under the blind eye of the local government, severely damaging the environment and creating conflict with local residents. Villagers have petitioned many times calling for the authorities to stop the mining, but to no avail. A notice issued by the local government on Friday and circulated on the internet blamed the protests on a few ill-intended individuals who have “colluded” with “overseas anti-China forces”. “A few people with an evil agenda have planned and organised some members of the masses who are unaware of the truth in the name of protecting the sacred mountain and the environment,” the notice said. China marks 50th anniversary of Tibetan government with huge rally in Lhasa “[They] illegally gathered about a hundred people to disturb the regular production of the Nahedi gold mine many times and collided with overseas anti-China forces to distort the truth and create much hype, causing a baneful influence and serious consequences,” it said. The police had arrested the main organisers of the protest, it noted, warning villagers to stay away from a temple where some protesters gathered on Friday. An employee at the Xiahe county government who picked up the phone on Wednesday morning referred the South China Morning Post to the government’s publicity department for comments. Repeated calls to the department went unanswered. How Tibetan nomads have become lost in transition to city life Amchock is a township of over 25,000 people about 80km south of the town centre of Xiahe, a popular tourist destination known for its historic culture, temples and scenery on the northeastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. More than 80 per cent of residents in Xiahe county are ethnic Tibetans.