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Monday, August 25, 2014, 08:46

Joint military exercise targets terrorism

By China Daily and Xinhua in Zhurihe, Inner Mongolia
Joint military exercise targets terrorism
A Tu-134 carrying 39 people from Kazakhstan arrives at the airport of the Zhurihe training base, North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, Aug 16, 2014. (Photo / Xinhua)

Five of the six members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization started a six-day military exercise on Sunday in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region to coordinate anti-terrorism capabilities, which have increasingly become a task requiring mutual assistance.

The exercise, code-named “Peace Mission 2014”, is scheduled to run from Sunday to Friday and aims to deter the “three evil forces” of terrorism, separatism and extremism, said Wang Ning, chief director of the drill and deputy chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army.

Founded in Shanghai in 2001, the SCO groups China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan are observers. Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka are dialogue partners.

“The drill focuses on joint multilateral decision-making and action, with exchanges of anti-terror intelligence among the SCO members to effectively boost the troops’ coordinated ability to fight terrorism,” Wang said.

A total of 7,000 troops from China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have been dispatched to the Zhurihe training base for the drill, including ground and air forces, special operations and airborne troops and others tasked with electronic countermeasures, reconnaissance, mapping and positioning.

Drones, early warning aircraft, air-defense missiles, tanks and armored vehicles have also joined the drill.

Terrorism has been a common challenge for the SCO members, which have held five counter-terrorism drills. This year is the first time that the drill is being conducted in just one country.

China has seen more than a dozen terrorism attacks in the past year, with some causing dozens of deaths.

To contain the spread of terrorism, the country announced the start of a one-year counter-terrorism campaign in May. The Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which borders Central Asia where some terrorists are trained and penetrate into China, became the focus of the battle.

In the counter-terrorism campaign, multinational cooperation also becomes crucial, so Chinese and SCO leaders have expressed strong desires to fight terrorism together.

The scenario for the exercise involves a separatist organization, supported by an international terrorist organization, plotting terrorist incidents and a coup to divide the country. The SCO dispatches military forces to put down the insurrection and restore stability at the request of the country’s government.

Terrorists often hide in the border region of the five participating countries, so in order to complete the anti-terrorism mission, the countries should develop a cooperation mechanism, as terrorists’ weapons and communication facilities have grown in recent years, said Song Zhongping, a military affairs commentator in Beijing.

Wang Xu contributed to this story.

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