NEWS

China Ratchets Up Security Before Olympic Games

By Matthew Harwood

China announced yesterday that it has deployed a special counterterrorism police force of 100,000 strong in the run-up to the Beijing Olympic Games, reported the official Xinhua News Agency.

The force consists of commandoes, specialists units, regular troops, and a paramilitary unit known as the Snow Wolf Commando Unit, responsible for responding to terrorist alerts and public unrest during the games, which run from August 8-24.

According to Reuters:

China has said terrorism is the biggest threat to the Games. It claims to have uncovered bomb plots and plans to kidnap athletes involving militants from the Uighur muslim minority in the far Western region of Xinjiang.

Rights activists accuse China of using terrorism as an excuse to crack down on internal dissent, in Xinjiang and Tibet in particular.

Aside from terrorist plots in Xinjiang, the Chinese government also accuses the Dalai Lama, the exiled political and spiritual head of Tibet, of being a separatist and of organizing suicide squads to attack the Olympic Games, reports the Associated Press.

As the torch makes its way towards Beijing, it will travel through rebellious Tibet and Xinjiang. To guard against problems, the AP says, the government appointed terrorism expert Yang Huanning as vice public security minister earlier this month.

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