From: MSN NicknameEagle_wng (Original Message) Sent: 9/4/2007 9:52 AM
Chinese, Russian special forces hold counter-terrorism drill </ARTTITLE> 4 Sep 2007, 1546 hrs IST,AFP
SMS NEWS to 58888 for latest updates MOSCOW: Russian and Chinese special forces began a joint counter-terrorism exercise dubbed "Friendship 2007" in Moscow on Tuesday, underlining the two neighbours' growing security ties.
The special forces were to practice their response to a hypothetical hostage-taking situation in an administrative building on the Chinese-Russian border.
At the start of the exercise, interior ministry forces cordoned off the building where captives were being held by balaclava-clad attackers armed with machine guns and rocket launchers.
Around 100 Russian personnel and 87 Chinese servicemen were taking part in the first exercise at an interior ministry base on the edge of Moscow. The drill was to run until Thursday.
The exercises are a follow-up to large-scale military exercises held by Russia, China and four Central Asian states last month in the Russian province of Chelyabinsk.
The exercises "represent practical action in exchange and cooperation between the interior forces of China and Russia," said the head of Chinese interior ministry forces, Wu Shuang Zhan.
The opening of the exercise began with a flower-laying ceremony at a monument to Russian forces who have perished in conflicts during and since the Soviet Union's 1991 collapse, including in Chechnya.
China and Russia's military cooperation has been criticised by human rights campaigners who accuse the two countries of crushing peaceful dissent under the pretext of combating terrorism.
The exercises came as Russia marked the third anniversary of the Beslan hostage disaster in southern Russia, in which more than 330 people, many of them children, died.
Critics have accused the Russian authorities of contributing to the loss of civilian life in Beslan through a seriously botched operation to rescue the hostages.
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