Beijing: Security forces from China and two Central Asian neighbours practiced hunting down violent separatists on Saturday in a counterterrorism drill along a border area where ethnic Muslim rebels have staged attacks against Beijing`s rule.
Friday`s one-day exercise involved forces from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan as well as China and took place along their borders in the western Chinese region of Xinjiang, the government and media reports said.
The scenario called on the three countries to coordinate a manhunt for anti-China separatists who had set up a training camp on the Chinese side of the border, the China News Service said. Flushed out, the rebels hijacked a tourist bus that television footage showed black-suited tactical units storming, shattering the windows to get inside.
Hardly far-fetched, the drill contained situations Chinese security forces have previously encountered in trying to quash the sporadically violent, decades-long rebellion by largely Muslim Uighurs seeking independence for Xinjiang, or what they call East Turkestan. Such tactical exercises, however, have often exacerbated resentment among more moderate Uighurs who see Xinjiang as their homeland.
The authoritarian government in Beijing has tried over the past decade to link its struggle against Xinjiang separatism to the wider US-led campaign against militant Islamist terrorism.
Following Osama bin Laden`s killing this week by US commandos, Beijing renewed its appeals for international cooperation, though Chinese foreign policy experts have voiced concern that with the terrorist leader gone, the United States will devote more efforts to containing China`s growing ambitions.