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China: Olympic terror plot foiled

  • Story Highlights
  • Police in China say they have "cracked" an international terrorist group
  • Group was planning to attack Olympic venues, they say
  • Rights groups concerned China using Olympics as pretext to target dissidents
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BEIJING, China (CNN) -- Police in China have "cracked" an international terrorist group that was planning to attack Olympic venues in Shanghai, state media reported Thursday.

There were few specific details of group or what it was said to be plotting, with the Xinhua news agency quoting Chen Jiulong, the deputy Shanghai's Public Security Bureau, saying it had acted on information.

Chinese authorities have previously announced terror crackdowns in the run-up to the Olympic Summer Games, which kick off on August 8 in host city Beijing and other venues including the eastern financial capital of Shanghai.

It said two weeks ago that it disrupted five "terrorist" groups in the predominantly Muslim Xinjiang region in China's far west because it suspected them of plotting to attack the games.

The six-month crackdown netted 82 suspected terrorists and marked the end to the first phase of China's Olympic Security Protection, according to Xinhua.

A Human Rights Watch analyst raised concerns that China may be using the Olympics as an excuse to crack down on dissidents.

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"It's clear that the police are simply adding cases of people who they think are engaging in activities that are critical of Chinese rule," Nicholas Bequelin told CNN.

The government has not produced any evidence of terror plots, and nearly all of the arrests are based on the confessions -- sometimes forced -- of those detained, he said.

"What the government appears to be doing is to conflate terrorism with criminal acts and other cases of dissent," he said.

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