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Friday, June 6, 2008

China's pre-Olympics security measures include removing doors from public toilets

Chinese authorities in Beijing are stepping up security in the capital by confiscating cigarette lighters and removing doors from public toilets, the Hong Kong Standard reported.

A man takes a photograph before the start of the flag raising ceremony at dawn in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 4,.       Reuters/David Gray
Tiananmen, scene of the bloody 1989 military crackdown, also is under air-tight security as the Olympic Games approach in August.

Security agents have conducted random searches of commuters on a new underground rail system.

The removal of the toilet doors has angered visitors who use the 200 tourist-friendly public toilets. The measure is aimed at preventing terrorists from leaving or assembling bombs behind closed doors.

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The cigarette lighter ban was instituted after an alleged plot by Uighur separatists to crash a passenger jet into Beijing in March.

U.S. officials have said the plot may have been a Chinese deception operation.

Stephen Vickers, chief executive of the private security company International Risk, told the newspaper that more intense searches, sweeps and control at access points within the nation and its borders will take place as the Games draw nearer.

"China for many years has been a very secure place because of the level of control the government exerts, but bringing in the Olympics is a whole new thing," the former Hong Kong police intelligence officer said.

Trash cans also will be removed to prevent bombs from being placed in them.

Vickers said computer monitoring would increase. A Chinese man identified only as Tang was arrested in Jiangsu after he posted an intention to grab the Olympic torch during its Nanjing relay leg.

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