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Tajik, Chinese Begin Counterterrorism Drill

September 21, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Tajikistan's Defense Ministry says the initial phase of its first-ever joint counterterrorism drill with neighboring China has started.

The three-day drill will be taking place on the Mumirak training grounds, in Tajikistan's southeastern Khatlon region.

Ministry spokesman Faridun Muhammadaliev told RFE/RL's Tajik Service that the drill involves Chinese special forces and Tajik air and land forces.

"A special forces company of the Chinese army is taking part in this exercise," Muhammadaliev said. "The Tajik army is contributing ground forces artillery, one special forces company of its rapid-reaction-force brigade, and one air forces company."

Codenamed Cooperation-2006, the exercise is taking place within the framework of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization's (SCO) convention against terrorism, separatism, and extremism.

The SCO comprises full members China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

(RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Avesta, Asia Plus, and Xinhua)