Security in Xinjiang has been strengthened with the addition of an elite counter-terrorism force from Beijing, according to the Hong Kong-based Ming Pao newspaper. The special force has been dispatched to Akesu in western Xinjiang and local residents have confirmed its arrival, said the newspaper.
An anonymous teacher in Akesu said Wednesday he has seen an increase of policemen on the street recently and police cars have begun patrolling day and night.
“I feel quite safe in the city now,” he told the Global Times, adding that he is not sure whether the police are from the new military unit.
Akesu, with nearly 75 percent of the population being Uyghur people, is about 400 kilometers from Kashgar (or Kashi), where two deadly attacks occurred the last weekend of July, leaving 14 civilians killed and 42 others injured. Police killed eight attackers during the rampage.
A bombing attack in Akesu on August 19 last year left eight people, including the two attackers, dead and 15 others injured.
The attack occurred on the outskirts of Akesu, when three people drove an electric tricycle into a crowd and detonated explosives.
“Akesu’s location near the center of the southern part of Xinjiang makes it convenient for special forces to take action when terrorist attacks happen in surrounding places, such as Kashi or Hotan,” Li Wei, an anti-terror expert with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.
He added the Snow Leopard Commando is good at dealing with emergencies and fighting terrorist attacks.
The special brigade, established in 2002, carried out security work during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. It also took part in several national counter-terrorism drills and the 2007 Sino-Russian counter-terrorism exercise.
To meet the upcoming China-Eurasia Expo, to be held in Urumqi from September 1 to 5, authorities also tightened security in the capital city.
Zhu Hailun, secretary of the Urumqi City Committee of the CPC, asked for at least 50 patrollers to be distributed through more than 100 major communities in Urumqi, China National Radio reported.
According to iyaxin.com, a news portal in Xinjiang, Urumqi has selected 1,200 persons from 46,000 soldiers to make up patrolling teams focusing on the streets and laneways security guards usually neglect.
Until now, almost every community in the city has one or two such teams, said the report.
“There is little possibility of major trouble to happen during the expo since terrorists usually don’t select the areas that have taken anti-terrorism measures as targets,” said Li.