China is launching a security sweep in Tibet ahead of one of the region's most sensitive anniversaries in years, with state media saying at least 81 people have been detained.
Tibet independence advocates said Wednesday the anti-crime crackdown in the Himalayan region appeared aimed at intimidating Tibetans ahead of the 50th anniversary of the failed uprising that saw the Dalai Lama flee into exile.
The public security bureau of Lhasa launched a "strike hard" campaign against crime on Jan. 18, with raids on residential areas, Internet cafes, bars, rented rooms, hotels and guesthouses, the state-run Tibetan Daily said in a Sunday report posted on the China Tibet News, a state news Web portal.
The story didn't say whether the people detained were Tibetan, Han Chinese or other ethnicities.
The "strike hard" campaigns are crime crackdowns in which normal arrest and prosecution procedures are usually waived to maximize the number of people detained. Though they normally focus on criminals, people suspected of anti-government activities in places like Tibet and the restive, largely Muslim region of Xinjiang also are targeted.
By Saturday, authorities had detained 51 people for unspecified criminal activities and taken in 30 others for robbery, prostitution and theft, the Tibetan Daily report said.
Among them were two people who had "reactionary music" on their mobile phones, the report said.
The International Campaign for Tibet said the latest "strike hard" campaign "appears to be intended to intimidate Tibetans still further" ahead of the period in March that marks the 1959 independence uprising as well as the Tibetan New Year.
Information for this report was provided by