BEIJING: Two Tibetan monks in southwestern China died after setting themselves on fire, a media outlet and a rights group said, the latest in a series of such protests against Beijing's rule.

Lobsang Dawa and Konchog Woeser set themselves ablaze on Wednesday in Sichuan province's Aba prefecture, where many such incidents have occurred, said US-based Radio Free Asia (RFA) and Britain-based rights group Free Tibet.

“All the Tibetans who resort to self-immolation do so because they feel they have no other way to make China and the world listen,” Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said in a statement.

RFA said monks held prayers for the deceased, aged 20 and 23, and the bodies were due to be cremated on Thursday. More than 110 Tibetans have set themselves alight since 2009, with most dying of their injuries, in demonstrations against what they view as Chinese oppression.

Beijing rejects such claims, pointing to substantial investment in Tibet and other regions with large Tibetan populations, although critics say economic development has brought an influx of ethnic Han Chinese and eroded traditional Tibetan culture.

Authorities have ramped up security in the areas, sometimes blocking communications, according to RFA.

In recent months Tibetans have been jailed on charges of inciting the protests and spreading information about such incidents overseas.

Beijing condemns the acts and blames them on the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, saying he uses them to further a separatist agenda.

The Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace laureate who has lived in exile in India since 1959 after a failed uprising in Tibet, has described the protests as acts of desperation that he is powerless to stop.

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