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Tibetan monk who helped bring Buddhism to West murdered in China

By Katie Hunt, CNN
updated 11:49 PM EDT, Wed October 9, 2013
A Tibetan monk sits outside a temple in Shangri-La, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of China's Yunnan Province.
A Tibetan monk sits outside a temple in Shangri-La, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of China's Yunnan Province.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A high-profile British Tibetan monk and two other men have been killed in China
  • Police said that three suspects have been captured
  • The victims were killed over a financial dispute, police added
  • Victim's brother says he was "assassinated"

Hong Kong (CNN) -- A high-profile monk who played a key role in bringing Tibetan Buddhism to the West has been murdered in southwest China, police say.

Tarap Shetrup Akong, who has British citizenship , was killed along with his nephew and another man in Sichuan province on Tuesday, police in the provincial capital Chengdu said on their official account on the microblogging site Weibo.

Police said that three suspects have been captured, and that the victims were stabbed in a financial dispute.

Akong was born in Tibet in 1940 and left for exile in 1959. He founded a monastery called Samye Ling in a secluded part of Scotland.

The victim's brother said in a statement on the monastery's website that he had been "assassinated" but did not give any further details.

Robbie Barnett, a Tibet expert at Columbia University in New York, said that he was known for his social as much as spiritual work.

"The bulk of his life's work was on providing social welfare to villagers, rural communities, townspeople, nomads and monasteries in Tibet and other countries."

Barnett said that he had great diplomatic skill and was able to maintain relationships with high-level Chinese officials without compromising his work with Tibetans on the ground.

CNN's Jaime FlorCruz in Beijing contributed reporting

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