The government has called for the "merciless repression" of anti-Chinese protests in Tibet and will assign the military commander of the troubled region to carry out the task, a Chinese source said Tuesday.

The new policy toward the fiercely anti-Chinese area was announced by Qiao Shi, standing committee member of the powerful Politburo and head of China's security apparatus, during a tour of the region earlier this month, said a Chinese source close to the government in Lhasa.In meetings with officials, Qiao revealed Beijing had decided to alter its policy toward Tibet from "lenient" to "severe," said the source, who declined to be identified.

The government of the region must "adopt a policy of merciless repression toward all rebels," the source quoted Qiao as saying in speeches to senior local officials.

Since last September, the Himalayan region has been rocked by a series of violent protests staged by Buddhist monks, or lamas, demanding Tibetan independence.