Central Asian nations to conduct terrorism drills with PLA

About 7,000 troops to take part in joint military exercises in Inner Mongolia later this month

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 3:04am
UPDATED : Thursday, 14 August, 2014, 3:04am

More than 7,000 troops from China and Central Asian countries are expected to take part in anti-terrorism drills in China later this month, state media reported.

Military personnel from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan would join forces with troops from the People's Liberation Army (PLA) for exercises in Inner Mongolia, Xinhua said.

The exercises have been organised as part of the Shanghai Co-operation Organisation, or SCO.

The six-nation regional grouping was set up in 1996 to co-operate on security, military, cultural and economic affairs, and its members also include Russia.

The exercises aimed to facilitate the exchange of terrorism intelligence and increase joint anti-terrorism combat capability, PLA Daily reported.

The five-day exercises will start on August 24.

The government launched a year-long crackdown against terrorism in May after a series of violent attacks blamed on Muslim separatist militants from the far-western Xinjiang region bordering Central Asia.

Security has been increased around the country, with more armed patrols introduced in cities including Beijing.

"All of the SCO countries have a stake in anti-terrorism, but the [anti-terror drills] are more like military drills," said Raffaello Pantucci, a senior research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London.

"Interestingly, in the past few drills we've seen Beijing improving their military capabilities."

More than 1,000 troops from Central Asian countries were due to arrive in Inner Mongolia for the exercises by Tuesday.

PLA forces carried out an anti-terrorism drill in the Tianshan mountains bordering Kyrgyzstan in May.

Troops simulated an assault on a terrorist camp and used drones and missiles during the exercises, PLA Daily reported.