A Tibetan exile set himself on fire outside the Chinese embassy in New Delhi on Friday before Indian police intervened, witnesses said, in the latest self-immolation protest against China.

The young protester poured liquid fuel on his body and lit himself before police overpowered him and put out the flames, which licked up his trousers and across his waist, an AFP photographer at the scene reported.

The man, who was on his own, had stepped off a public bus and shouted slogans during his protest before several policemen grabbed him and he fell to the ground.

He appeared to have suffered minor burns on his legs and was taken away in a police vehicle. A New Delhi police spokesman was unable to provide further details.

Since March there has been a series of self-immolations by Buddhist monks and nuns in southwest China in protests demanding religious freedom and the return of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader.

At least five monks and two nuns have died, rights groups have said, with the most recent death being reported on Thursday when a nun, named Qiu Xiang and aged about 35, set fire to herself in China's Sichuan province.

Tibetan groups in Delhi said the activist in Friday's protest was a 25-year-old named Sherab Tsedor.