World / Asia-Pacific

Regional body to establish anti-terror unit

By Cui Jia in Tashkent and Gao Bo in Urumqi (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-10 07:29

Regional body to establish anti-terror unit

Armed forces demonstrate fighting skills during an anti-terrorist drill in Urumqi city, northwestern China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, April 26, 2014. [Photo/IC]

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization will set up a special unit to help combat terrorism, amid the increasing threat of terrorist activities facing China and Central Asia.

"Many terrorists who carried out deadly attacks in China watched or listened to video or audio files online with extremist ideological content, but such materials are produced or uploaded outside China," Zhang Xinfeng, director of the Eurasian grouping's regional anti-terrorist structure executive committee, said at its headquarters in Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan.

"The regional anti-terrorist structure decided to set up a special unit at the end of 2013 to deal with the new situation."

Zhang said the unit can provide assistance to China, especially to the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, which is at the frontline of the country's yearlong nationwide campaign on terrorism, to eliminate online sources of terrorist and extremist information.

Member states of the SCO - Kazakhstan, China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - have constantly targeted and arrested terrorists, separatists and extremists as well as tracked down terrorists that are wanted internationally.

On May 22, attackers killed 39 people and injured 94 at a morning marketplace in Urumqi, Xinjiang's capital.

Central Asian countries have become key in helping China curb the spread of terrorism.

"Terrorist attacks in Xinjiang are closely related to the activities of terrorist, separatist and extremist forces in Central Asia, so joint anti-terrorist efforts from the member countries are crucial to China's stability, and it is a long-term mission," Zhang said.

At meetings in Shanghai last month, leaders from China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan highlighted the mutual task of fighting terrorism.

Ma Pinyan, a senior anti-terrorism researcher in Xinjiang, said the efforts of the SCO have been effective. But it should do more to prevent terrorist links and activities in different places, especially in their spread of video or audio content with religious extremism and violence through the Internet.

"If so, it will be a great boost to anti-terrorist efforts in Xinjiang," Ma said.

SCO member countries have adopted an anti-terrorism mechanism in intelligence and information sharing. They have also strengthened cooperation of border controls since 2013, Zhang said.

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