The weekend deaths of two people in the northwestern Chinese province of Qinghai raises to 14 the number of self-immolations by Tibetans over the past 12 days, the exile news agency Phayul said Monday.

Buddhist monk Sangdag Tsering, 24, burned himself to death in Dokar Mo hours after a female taxi-driver, Chagmo Kyi, died in the city of Rongwo by immolating herself at the doors of a government building.

Chinese authorities barred Tibetans from visiting the victims' families to stop them from offering condolences, and at the same time closed several monasteries.

The news agency said that thousands of citizens gathered at the place where Sangdag set himself ablaze in order to carry his body to a nearby monastery.

Sangdag, according to the agency, had several times expressed his resentment for the lack of freedom in Tibet and had called for the return of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader now living in India.

The number of self-immolations in regions with Tibetan populations has increased over the past two weeks, coinciding with the celebration in Beijing of the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, which ended last week.

China has considered Tibet a part of its territory for centuries, though Tibetans in exile point out that their homeland was virtually independent until it was occupied by the Red Army in the 1950s. EFE