By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA
KATMANDU, Nepal - Nepalese police detained more than 500 Tibetan exiles decrying a crackdown in their homeland in a protest near the Chinese Embassy on Thursday, police said.
Police officers in blue camouflage uniforms chased down red-robed Buddhist monks and nuns and other Tibetans, struggling with the protesters and dragging them along the ground as they resisted. They were tossed into vans and open trucks and driven to detention centers.
Police official Sarbendra Khanal said that 505 Tibetans were detained, including several women and monks, from at least three separate protests near the embassy in an upscale neighborhood.
It was so far the largest number of Tibetans detained in Nepal's capital, Katmandu, since the exiles began almost daily protests last month against a Chinese crackdown in Tibet.
In neighboring India, runners carried the Olympic flame along a heavily guarded route through central New Delhi. It was protected by about 15,000 police who kept away Tibetan exiles and other anti-China protesters — some of the tightest security ever seen in the Indian capital.
In Katmandu, a first group of about 50 people came out in the afternoon chanting slogans against China, followed by a slightly larger group an hour later. The largest group rallied late in the afternoon. All protests were broken up by the police and participants detained.
Khanal said the Tibetans had not been charged, and that authorities were awaiting orders from top government officials on how to handle them.
Nepalese police have broken up almost all the anti-China protests of the past few weeks and detained demonstrators. Officials have said they will not allow protests against any friendly nations, including China.
The detained protesters are usually freed at night, though Khanal was unsure if the Thursday's group would be freed the same day.
The Tibetans have been protesting in front of the United Nations office in Katmandu and the Chinese Embassy.
Security has been stepped up around the embassy since the protests began, with hundreds of police officers posted to the streets leading to the building.
The protesters have so far managed to gather in small groups and protest near the embassy, but have not reached the fortified compound.
Nepal has been criticized by the United Nations and international rights groups for using what they say is excessive force to stop the protests. Police have broken up protests by beating people with batons and dragging them on streets while detaining them. Police, however, appeared to be using less force this week.