Fifteen Communist Party officials who joined underground Tibetan independence organizations have been punished after investigators determined that they provided intelligence to the Dalai Lama and his supporters or have participated in separatist activities, Chinese media reported on Wednesday.

The Chinese Communist Party accused the 15 officials of assisting with activities that “would harm national security,” Wang Gang, an official with the Commission for Discipline Inspection of Tibet, said, according to state media Chinese News Service. He added that six party officials and civil servants have been “violating discipline” and 45 officials have abandoned their posts or neglected their duties. All of them will be “severely punished,” Wang said, according to the paper. It is unclear if these figures included the 15 party officials being punished for abetting separatist activities.

The commission gave no details regarding what groups the allegedly errant officials joined, what intelligence they provided or how their activities would have harmed national security. Party representatives gave no comment on the commission’s statement when contacted by the Associated Press. Also, there has been no mention of what the punishments will be, although officials previously found guilty of violating party discipline have been dismissed and given jail terms.

In light of dissent among officials in the region, Ye Dongsong, head of a party discipline inspection team, suggested in November 2014 that the Tibetan regional government should focus on neutralizing separatists and maintaining social stability, cracking down on corruption and strictly monitoring projects, according to CNS. The Tibetan discipline inspection department received 1,494 reports about misbehaving officials in 2014 from local residents, an increase of 131.7 percent year on year. Of these cases, 329 cases have been investigated, an increase of 161.1 percent since 2013, according to the CNS.

"The Chinese government is literally seeking to replace loyalty to the Dalai Lama in Tibetan hearts and minds with allegiance to the Chinese Party-state," Kate Saunders, communications director for the Washington, D.C.-based International Campaign for Tibet, told the AP.

Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama, who has been exiled from the region since 1959, of trying to split Tibet from China. The Dalai Lama has denied any such intentions. Locals have been protesting Beijing rule for years, resenting its limits on Tibetan Buddhism and culture, with the most recent case of self-immolation by a Tibetan monk in December.