Beijing - Chinese authorities have arrested five Tibetans, mostly Buddhist monks, whom they allege persuaded three people to self-immolate at the behest of foreign forces.
The official Xinhua News Agency said on Thursday the five Tibetans were arrested by police in northwestern Gansu province and included a 21-year-old monk from neighboring Sichuan.
Xinhua says the five are accused of recruiting three people and encouraging them to self-immolate in late October and November last year, saying their sacrifice would contribute to the Tibetan cause.
Authorities initially responded to the self-immolations by flooding Tibetan areas with security forces to seal them off.
With those efforts doing little to stop or slow the protests, Beijing now appears to be seeking to weaken sympathy for them by portraying them as misguided and criminal.