A pro-Tibet independence group has released a video they say shows Chinese police kicking and beating a man who had set himself on fire in a protest against Chinese rule.

The US-based International Campaign for Tibet posted a 45-second video of the self-immolation of Lobsang Jamyang in the Chinese town of Aba in January.

The footage depicts a crowd gathering around the 22-year-old Tibetan as the flames consume his body. Campaigners said that he had probably drunk petrol as well as pouring it over his body.

Riot police close in, fire teargas into the crowd and then use a pushcart to knock him to the ground. As he falls, police are seen kicking him before extinguishing the flames.

At the end of the video, angered locals try to prevent police from taking the man away. It is not clear whether he died immediately or in the hospital. Subsequent clashes between police and Tibetans led to one woman being blinded and a man severely wounded in his neck.

Lobsang Jamyang was a former monk who became a leading member of an association that promotes Tibetan language in a village close to Aba.

"He was involved in something called the Pure Land programme," a source told the International Campaign for Tibet. "It was really wonderful, drawing so many students and encouraging competency in the pure Tibetan language. Even one of my close relatives who spoke only Chinese now speaks fluent Tibetan. Lobsang Jamyang helped to set it up and they also set up a competition to encourage people further."

Thirty-three people have set themselves on fire in Tibetan areas over the past year to draw attention to China's restrictions on Buddhism and to call for the return from exile of their leader, the Dalai Lama.

Of the protesters, 23 were from Aba and most are monks or former monks from the prominent Kirti monastery.

Chinese authorities have confirmed reports of some self-immolations - largely through articles by the state-run Xinhua News Agency - but not all.

Heavy security has turned Aba and the surrounding area into a restricted zone since an anti-government uprising across Tibetan communities in 2008. Foreign reporters have had little or no access, AP reported.