Infantry forces from member countries of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) today started a joint training exercise in northwest China's restive Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to boost the ability of their forces to deal with emerging security threats. The week-long exercise in Korla is aimed at improving combat ability, boost military communication and improve troops ability to deal with security threats, according to a military statement. The participants will undergo training to test their physical ability and combat skills, it said. The exercises will also improve cooperation, coordination and actual combat abilities. In line with the "Shanghai Spirit" of mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality, consultation, respect for cultural diversity and pursuit of common development, members of the SCO have carried out 12 bilateral or multilateral training events since 2002, it noted. The Beijing-based SCO, an inter-governmental organisation founded in Shanghai in 2001, includes China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India, Afghanistan, Iran, Mongolia, and Pakistan have observer-nation status in the SCO while Belarus, Turkey and Sri Lanka have dialogue partner status. Xinjiang, which is home to the Muslim Uighur minority, has seen a spate of attacks in recent years. China has blamed the violent incidents in Xinjiang on Uighur separatists who are seeking to form a separate East Turkistan.
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