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Fourth Tibetan man sets self on fire as protests against China intensify

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Oct 23, 2012 - Dorje Rinchen, a farmer in his late 50s, runs after setting himself on fire on the main street in Xiahe in northwestern China's Gansu province. (AP/Freetibet.org) (AP2012)

A U.S.-based rights group says a 24-year-old Tibetan farmer has become the fourth man in a far western Chinese county to set himself on fire this week in protest against Chinese rule.

The International Campaign for Tibet said Lhamo Tseten self-immolated on Thursday in front of a military base and a government office in Amuquhu town in Xiahe county.

The official Xinhua News Agency on Friday reported the self-immolation of a Tibetan man by the same name, though details were slightly different. Xinhua said Lhamo Tseten was a 23-year-old villager and that he set himself alight near a hospital.

In the past week in Xiahe, in Gansu province, a herdsman, a farmer, and a man in his late 20s have done the same in various locations. All four died.

Xiahe county is home to Labrang Monastery, which is one of the most important outside of Tibet, and was the site of numerous protests by monks following deadly ethnic violence in Tibet in 2008 that was the most sustained Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in decades.

Police in the region are offering tipsters a reward of $7,700 for information about planned self-immolations in a bid to stem the tide of fiery protests.

Dozens of ethnic Tibetans have set themselves on fire in heavily Tibetan regions since March 2011 to protest what activists say is Beijing's heavy-handed rule in the region. Many have called for the return of the Dalai Lama, their exiled spiritual leader.