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China mobilizes 100,000-member Anti-terrorism force for Beijing Olympics

June 20, 2008

The Canadian Press
June 19, 2008

BEIJING -- China has mobilized a 100,000-strong anti-terrorism force
to guard the Beijing Olympics.

The official Xinhua news agency says the force was activated earlier
this month after completing a series of drills.

It is comprised of police commandos, specialist units and regular army troops.

Xinhua says it also includes China's paramilitary Snow Wolf Commando
Unit, which is specifically tasked with handling terrorist alerts and
public unrest during or around the Aug. 8-24 Games.

Liu Shaowu, security director for the Beijing organizing committee,
tells Xinhua that the force is being activated now because the
"experience of past games shows that terrorist attacks may occur
before the games."

China early enacted a raft of security restrictions and organized an
additional 440,000 security guards and volunteers to ward off attacks.

China has said terrorism is the biggest threat to the games and
claimed to have already foiled multiple plots by domestic separatists
to sabotage the event. Authorities have provided scant evidence of
the plots, but said suspects admitted to foreign links and
anti-Olympics agendas.

Earlier this month, the government appointed a terrorism expert as
vice-public security minister ahead of the Olympic torch's procession
through the restive areas of Tibet and Xinjiang.

China officials claim Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama,
is a separatist and had accused his supporters of orchestrating
protests in Tibetan areas this year to sabotage the Olympics and also
of preparing "suicide squads" to carry out attacks. Tibet and
Tibetan-inhabited parts of western China had been closed to foreign
tourists and journalists since the protests broke out in March.

Authorities also said they foiled plots by separatists in Xinjiang -
a region of northwest China that borders Tibet and includes much of
China's Muslim population. Alleged attempts to crash an airliner and
kidnap athletes and journalists were among those threats, they said.
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