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Beijing airport mock drill passes terror test
( 2003-09-26 00:48) (China Daily)

A special police squad "killed'' a "hijacker'' and freed all "hostages'' on a Boeing 747 aircraftat Beijing Capital International Airport yesterday morning.

Elite units of China's "air cops" prepare to storm a "hijacked" Boeing 747 airliner during an anti-hijacking exercise at Beijing Capital International Airport Thursday morning. The exercise was part of a test by China's civil aviation authorities of the country's preparedness for airborne emergencies. [newsphoto.com.cn]
The tail of the plane caught fire as it rolled down the runaway, keeping firefighters and first-aid personnel busy on the tarmac.

The scenes were part of test by China's civil aviation authorities of the country's preparedness for airborne emergencies.

The drill, the largest of its kind at China's biggest and busiest air transport hub, saw 350 special police, paramedics and firefighters work together to control the situation, extinguish the fire and rescue the wounded.

"Although the overall situation in China is stable, increasingly active terrorism worldwide means we are facing mounting threats ... against which we must maintain high vigilance,'' Vice-Minister of Public Security Tian Qiyu said yesterday at the airport.

China's civil aviation sector foiled two attempts to set off blasts on planes so far this year, Tian revealed, without giving details.

Yesterday's anti-hijacking exercise served to further enhance the sector's emergency response capability in case of terrorist acts, he said.

During the exercise, an elite unit from the Special Police School of the People's Armed Police Forces played a key role in stunning three "terrorists.'' The hijackers claimed they would set off a bomb on the plane if their jailed leader was not released.

The squad went into action at Beijing airport immediately after the control tower received a hijack alert at 9:30 am.

It approached the plane, which landed at the airport for "refuelling,'' and conducted a reconnaissance around and inside the aircraft using sophisticated equipment.

At the order of the national anti-hijacking headquarters, the police stormed the hijacked plane after negotiators failed to convince the terrorists to end their siege.

Within several minutes, the anti-terrorism unit "shot dead'' a hijacker and seized two others.

Airport, public security, medical and fire fighting staff dispersed the passengers and treated the wounded in line with their contingency plans.

Fire engines capable of pumping water up to 75 metres were used in an aircraft fire-fighting drill that followed the anti-hijacking exercise yesterday.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China yesterday said China is one of the first countries in the world to establish a dedicated public security unit and anti-hijacking armed group for the civil aviation industry.

Wang Rongzhou, head of the Special Police School of the People's Armed Police Forces, yesterday said China set up its special anti-hijacking unit in the 1980s. It has since become a key part of the country's anti-terrorism task force.

China is expected to staff its airlines with air police from next month, according to newspaper reports.

The air cops will respond to any terrorist acts when the plane is airborne, the reports said.

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