A Tibetan writer and a local person say hundreds of residents and monks in western China's Qinghai province gathered in front of a jail this week in a rare rally to demand the release of a highly respected Tibetan monk.

The local person, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, says about 60 to 70 monks and about 400 to 500 laypeople gathered in front of the county jail in the Tibetan town of Nangqian on Wednesday to petition for the release of Karma Tsewang. No reason has been given for his detention.

The person says the crowd dissipated after police said they would respond within five days.

Beijing-based Tibetan writer Tsering Woeser says Karma Tsewang's lawyer has been told the case involves state security.