Terrorism biggest threat to Olympics

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Beijing, Sep 11: Chinese security officls stated that ' terrorism ' is the biggest threat to the Bejing Olympics which is sheduled to held next year.

The report did not say which groups might target the Games, but China is home several restive minorities such as the Muslim Uighurs in the far western region of Xinjiang who have been blamed by Beijing for bomb attacks in recent years.

''Although the general security situation for the Beijing Olympics remains stable, we still face the challenges of terrorism, separatism and extremism,'' the official China Daily quoted Minister of Public Security Zhou Yongkang as saying.

''Terrorism, in particular, poses the biggest threat,'' he told a conference, the newspaper said.

Interpol would help organisers by providing details such as fingerprints and photographs on international criminal suspects, Xinhua news agency added.

''Terrorists will not use their real names, so they will use documents that were stolen or lost in order to conceal their identities,'' it quoted Ronald K. Noble, Interpol's Secretary General, as saying.

''Our system will permit automated screening of thousands of individuals against Interpol's global most-wanted databases at the time of their visa application, which will provide China with the most advanced early detection system of fraudulent travel documents and criminals currently available,'' Noble said.

But regional and ''ethnic'' conflicts around the world could spill over in the Games, ''and some international terrorist or extremist groups might make use of the event to launch attacks for their own purposes'' added deputy security minister Liu Jing.

''The Olympic Games is a happy gathering for people from all countries, but it's also a big target for terrorism,'' Liu said.

''The vice-minister noted that some organisations and individuals had tried to politicise the Olympics and intervene in China's internal affairs, and some others were planning to disrupt the Olympic torch relay,'' the China Daily added.

The relay's route -- which has already sparked controversy with Taiwan refusing to let the torch in -- should be guarded throughout it's 130-day journey, Liu said. China considers self-ruled Taiwan sovereign territory.

China has previously lashed out at threats to boycott or disrupt the 2008 Beijing Games on the pretext of protesting against human rights abuses or highlighting the plight of Tibet, saying it is a purely sporting event.

Still, Liu said he was confident nothing would go wrong next year.

''Preparation for the security work is advancing smoothly,'' Liu said.


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