The Tibetans were trying to stop security forces in southwest China from detaining a youth who posted a leaflet saying that self-immolations wouldn't stop until Tibet is free, the International Campaign for Tibet said.
At least 16 Buddhist monks, nuns and other Tibetans have set themselves on fire in protest in the past year, mostly in traditionally Tibetan areas of southwestern Sichuan province. Most have chanted for Tibetan freedom and the return of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who fled to India amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.
The London-based group said a youth named Tarpa posted a leaflet in Sichuan's Aba prefecture "stating that the reason for the self-immolation protests was that Tibet must be free and the Dalai Lama must return, and until these demands were met, there was no way for the campaign to be stopped."
He wrote his own name on the leaflet and posted a photo of himself, saying that Chinese authorities could come and arrest him if they wished, group spokeswoman Kate Saunders said in an email.
Security forces arrested Tarpa about two hours later, Saunders said.
"As they were taking him away, people nearby tried their best to block the way, shouting slogans, and warning the police that if they arrested Tarpa they would provoke a mass protest. The police responded by firing into the crowd. According to our sources, one person was killed on the spot and several wounded."
Saunders said the Tibetan shot was a 20-year-old friend of Tarpa's, a student named Urgen. She said the area was under lockdown Friday.
The incident, as with most reported clashes in Tibetan areas, could not be independently verified because of a heavy security presence and lack of access for outsiders.
On Monday, several thousand Tibetans in Ganzi prefecture in Sichuan province marched to government offices and police opened fire into the crowd, killing up to three people, witnesses and activist groups said.
A day later, security forces opened fire on a crowd of protesters in another area of Ganzi, killing two Tibetans and wounding several more, according to the group Free Tibet. The Chinese government said a "mob" of people charged a police station and injured 14 officers, forcing police to open fire on them. The official Xinhua News Agency said police killed one rioter and injured another.
China says Tibet has been under its rule for centuries, but many Tibetans say the region was functionally independent for most of that time.