Missiles Installed At Olympic Venue

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Peter Sharp
China correspondent
Updated:09:07, Wednesday June 25, 2008

Obsessed with the prospect of a terrorist attack during the Olympics, China has deployed a battery of surface to air missiles near the Bird's Nest, the official stadium for the Beijing Games.

The pair of camouflaged Hongqi 7 missiles are capable of shooting down aircraft that enter the no-fly zone around the showpiece venues for the Games.

A mobile radar dish and other military vehicles manned by air force personnel were clearly visible to passing traffic across from the city's fourth ring road, which is less than a kilometre south of the stadium.

All aircraft have been banned from airspace around the site of the Games, although helicopters will be used by broadcasters to cover the Olympic venues.

The deployment of the missiles is a further indication of China's commitment to total security during the Games, which begin on August 8.

More than 100,000 paramilitary troops and members of the elite Snow Wolf Commando unit will be based at the Olympic venues across the country over the next few weeks.

Already there is an obvious increased military and police presence on the streets of the capital.

In January, Chinese security forces said they had foiled a plot to disrupt the Games.

Beijing said Islamic terrorists from Western Xinjiang province were planning to attack the Olympic Stadium and kidnap athletes.

The authorities failed to supply any evidence for its claims and Human Rights Watch said the allegations were a pretext for China to engage in its own crackdown on members of the Muslim Uyghur minority that occupies the strategic oil rich regions in the west.

:: Greece deployed batteries of US Patriot missiles before the opening of the Athens Olympics in 2004.