China Stages Terror Drill in Preparation for Olympics

BEIJING - Hundreds of police staged a mock terrorist attack on the Beijing Olympics' sailing venue, "hijacking" an oil tanker and trying to break into the facility, state media reported Saturday.

The exercise, involving more than 800 police and 27 vessels on Friday, was part of the Chinese government's security preparations for next year's Games.

The preparations have also included drills testing police readiness in handling radioactive "dirty bomb" attacks and hostage situations.

China's military has set up a special unit trained to counter threats such as biochemical or nuclear terror attacks, state media have reported.

The drill in the eastern Chinese seaside city of Qingdao was held in the Olympic sailing venue area, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

"Terrorists" on a motorboat, armed with guns and bombs, simulated taking over an oil tanker and seizing two hostages. Marine police were dispatched to capture the fake terrorists," the report said.

Qingdao, about 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Beijing, will host the Olympic sailing competition from Aug. 9 to 21 next year. About 400 athletes will compete for medals in 11 sailing events.

Luo Gan, the top law and order official of the Communist Party of China, watched the exercise and urged public security departments to intensify anti-terrorist efforts to ensure a safe Olympics.

"We should take the opportunity of the Olympics to improve security services for Chinese society," Luo said.

State media have reported that plans drawn up in 2005 allocated US$300 million (?225 million) for security - only about 20 percent of the amount spent for the 2004 Athens Games.

Liu Shaowu, head of security of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games, said in April organizers had kept security costs low by relying on domestic providers for surveillance systems and other necessary equipment.

Associated Press WorldStream -- 07/16/07

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