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August 8, 2009

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Security stiffened for National Day

THE anti-terror forces that safeguarded the Beijing Olympics last year are in action again as security is being enhanced ahead of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

"A safe National Day is the key to the success of the anniversary," Wang Anshun, deputy secretary of the Communist Party of China's Beijing Municipal Committee, said yesterday.

Experts said the security forces associated with the anniversary activities on October 1 should be stronger than those used during the Games as terrorist groups are also better equipped.

Unlike the Olympic events, held mostly inside stadiums and other venues, the anniversary celebrations will feature parades and fireworks parties outdoors, which make it more difficult to prevent terrorist attacks, said Cai Changjun, a professor at the Institute of Special Police of China.

The major threats come from East Turkestan terrorists, Tibetan separatist forces and Falun Gong forces, said Li Wei, director of the anti-terrorism research center at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

Authorities did not reveal how many officers would be deployed in the safety campaign.

The Snow Leopard Commando Unit, a major anti-terrorism wing of the People's Armed Police, and the Blue Sword Commando Unit under the Beijing armed police, are ready for security operations during the celebrations, a Beijing armed police official said.

The two highly classified special police squads, comprising more than 400 officers, were called the protectors of the Olympics for their roles in counter-terrorism, riot control and other special tasks, such as stopping hijackings and bomb disposal.

Among the upcoming security measures, police will strengthen baggage checks in subway stations, an anti-terror measure that started during the Games. Emergency police centers can also mobilize helicopters and satellites to head off potential terror attacks.

Equipment to deal with chemical weapons, monitoring systems for suspect vehicles and air detection equipment that was developed during the Olympics have been used in daily checks.


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