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82 suspected terrorists detained in Xinjiang in first half
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Chinese police cracked five terrorism groups in the country's northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region in the first half of 2008, detaining 82 suspected terrorists who allegedly plotted sabotage against the Beijing Olympics, an official said.

Chen Zhuangwei, head of the Public Security Bureau of Urumqi, made the remarks on Wednesday at a conference here on Olympic security, local media reported on Thursday.

Police in the regional capital also detained 66 gang members of the "three evil forces" of terrorism, separatism and extremism, and destroyed 41 training bases of "holy war" from January to June, Chen said.

During the period, local police cracked 16 cases of the Falun Gong cult, detained 25 suspects and destroyed seven illegal workshops of reactionary propaganda material for Falun Gong, he said.

In addition, local police arrested 217 members from 51 gangs accused of violent crimes such as robbery and seized 268 wanted suspects, he said.

"The number of criminal cases dropped 12.6 percent (compared with the same period last year)," Chen said. But both figures were not available for now.

The Olympic torch relay was held successfully on June 17 in Urumqi and that was a "significant victory" in the first phase of the Olympic security work in Xinjiang, he said.

"The second phase has begun. All police must continue to work hard and increase the fight against terrorism, the 'three evil forces,' criminal cases, drug crimes and other violent crimes, so as to provide solid work for the Olympic security and ensure the stability of the regional capital," he said.

Chen's remarks were made just a day after local police raided a hideout of 15 suspects from a "holy war" training group in Urumqi, shooting and killing five of them, injuring two and seizing another eight.

The 15 suspects were all Uygurs and consisted of five women and 10 men. They wielded knives and threatened to "perish together" with the policemen when cornered, a police spokesman said.

Police had been searching for three men in the group after they were suspected to have stabbed a Han woman and seriously wounded her at a Urumqi beauty salon on May 23, the spokesman said.

Vice Minister of Public Security Yang Huanning said last week that the Olympic Games would be a target for various anti-China and hostile forces, saying that they are trying every possible way to sabotage the event.

China is stepping up efforts on Olympic security. Beijing launched subway security checks on passengers late last month and it will start to deploy security staff at hundreds of checkpoints on road entries to the city from next week.

In addition, China has cooperated with other countries in this regard.

Five other member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) pledged last week to actively assist China in the security work for the upcoming Games.

Security departments of the six SCO members -- China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan -- would increase cooperation to ensure a successful Games, according to a joint press communique issued at the conclusion of a meeting of the SCO Regional Anti-Terrorism Structure.

"The Beijing Olympics is a great event not only for the Chinese people, but also for peoples from the SCO member countries and from all over the world," the communique said.

"Any actions and activities plotted to disrupt the Games would not enjoy popular support and would damage the interests of all peoples around the world," it said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 10, 2008)

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