A Tibetan has died by burning himself to death in the northwestern Chinese province of Gansu, in what was the area's fourth incident of this kind in a week.

Local authorities said Saturday, according to the official news agency Gansu, that the 22-year-old man set fire to himself at 8:43 p.m. Friday in Xiahe county in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Gannan.

The young man sacrificed himself six hours after Lhamo Tseten, 23, died by fire at 2:40 p.m. Friday near a hospital in the town of Amchok, also in Gannan.

Exile groups say there have now been 60 cases of self-immolation so far this year in different areas with ethnic Tibetan populations in the western part of the country.

For its part, the Chinese government considers that groups close to the Dalai Lama "are instigating their devotees" to carry out these acts, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said last Tuesday about the series of suicides.

Hong said the behavior of these groups is "despicable" and noted that Tibet "has achieved great economic development and social harmony that have improved its inhabitants' quality of life.

Tibetans meanwhile complain of oppression by the Chinese government and these acts of protest are usually carried out to demand full autonomy for Tibet, whose spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, lives in exile in Dharamsala, India.

China has considered Tibet as part of its country for centuries through dynastic unions and conquests of the imperial period, but for Tibetans in exile the "Roof of the World" was virtually independent until it was occupied by the Communist Red Army in the early 1950s. EFE