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Anti-terrorism exercises in Urumqi show might

By Yang Jingjie (Global Times)

09:12, July 10, 2012

Police authorities in Urumqi, capital city of Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, staged two anti-terrorism exercises over the past weekend, in the wake of a foiled airline hijacking attempt in the region on June 29.

The exercises codenamed "Bofeng 2012" were held on Saturday and Sunday in suburban Urumqi and Dabancheng district in the outskirts of the city.

Special unit police officers demonstrated their shooting and combat skills during the exercises. A simulated terrorist hijacking of a bus also tested their skills.

The police officers also staged a drill on how to handle mass incidents.

Local news portal iyaxin.com quoted Tong Hongjun, deputy chief of Urumqi's Public Security Bureau, as saying that the exercises were a test of the capabilities of the special unit, which is responsible for maintaining stability throughout the region.

Tao said the drills come in advance of the opening of the second China-Eurasia Expo, which will be held in Urumqi in September, and the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China later this year.

"The success of the drills once again proved that the police in Urumqi are capable of safeguarding people's lives and property," Tao said.

The exercises came after six passengers tried to hijack a Tianjin Airline plane minutes after it took off from Hotan Airport in the region on June 29. Xinjiang's Party chief Zhang Chunxian last week urged soldiers to keep vigilant against hostile forces, asking them to strike the separatists, extremists and terrorists with "iron fists."

Xinjiang is in the forefront of the country's fight against terrorism. On July 5, 2009, a deadly riot incited by overseas separatist groups left 200 people dead and about 1,700 injured in Urumqi.

Zhang Jiadong, a professor with Fudan University, told the Global Times that the counter-terrorism situation in Xinjiang is becoming more complicated, as a result of Washington's shift away from the global war on terror.

"The US relaxed its focus on the so-called East Turkistan Islamic Movement, and sometimes it even turns a blind eye to the movement, leaving the terrorists opportunities to incite violence in Xinjiang," Zhang said.

As a result of the foiled hijacking attempt, airports throughout the region have upgraded their alert level, putting in place stringent security checks on passengers flying in and out of the region.

At all 16 airports in the region, all carry-on baggage is being inspected and most luggage is opened for inspection.

Meanwhile, its Hainan Airlines announced it will give lifetime passes to the 22 passages who fought and subdued the hijackers on Tianjin Airlines flight GS7554.

The airline staff on the flight have been given rewards totalling almost 30 million yuan ($4.70 million) while the staff of Tianjin Airlines, which is a subsidiary of Hainan Airlines, will also be given a total of 30 million yuan for their role in aftermath of the hijacking.

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