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Beijing deploys anti-aircraft missiles

Martin Zhou
June 23,2008

Beijing has deployed anti-aircraft missiles in the vicinity of the centerpiece Bird's Nest stadium in its latest effort to boost Games security.

The move was in line with standard security procedures at other major sports events, said Ma Xin, who advises Games organiser Bocog on anti-terror tactics.

"We're just following the lead of the Greeks, Germans and Koreans," said Mr Ma, referring to the countries that hosted last Olympics and the past two soccer World Cup tournaments. "The deployment is to guard against aerial terrorist threats and it helps complete the Games' security infrastructure."

Mr Ma declined to reveal the exact model or number of missiles deployed but pictures of a launch pad on the fringe of the Olympic Green – an area covering 2.91 square kilometres that is home to venues like the Bird's Nest and Water Cube – have been posted on many websites.

Some have identified the missiles as Hongqi 7, or Redflag 7, a Chinese-made short-range ground-to-air missile designed to intercept low-altitude targets.

In 2004, the Greek government deployed 120 Patriot anti-aircraft missiles across five sites around the country during the Games, including three in the Athens area. During the World Cup in 2002 co-hosted by South Korea, two missile launchers were deployed right outside the main stadium in Seoul.

Mainland authorities, in the wake of politic unrest in Xinjiang and Tibet earlier this year, are taking no chances. An anti-terrorist force comprising nearly 100,000 commandos, police and army troops is on high alert.

Liu Shaowu, director of Bocog's security department, said anti-terror drills, dubbed "Great Wall 5", had been carried out earlier this month.

The drills, including missions to deal with chemical attacks and hostage-taking, were staged from June 11-14.

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