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Police on highest alert for G20 security

The police are to be put on a special alert from this Saturday until the following Saturday, the day after the closing of the Group of 20 summit.

During the eight days, 50,000 police officers are to be deployed around the COEX, the summit’s venue, according to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency.

The highest number of police officers ever mobilized in a single G20 summit was 19,000 in Toronto this June.

Also, authorities are keeping close watch over 98 foreign nationals from Muslim states suspected of being a potential threat to the general security, according to the National Police Agency on Friday.
Police officers patrol at Gwanghwamun subway station in Seoul as part of special security measures Friday, six days ahead of the G20 summit. (Yang Dong-chul/The Korea Herald)
Police officers patrol at Gwanghwamun subway station in Seoul as part of special security measures Friday, six days ahead of the G20 summit. (Yang Dong-chul/The Korea Herald)

The NPA has selected from about 50,000 Muslim state nationals 99 whose residence changes often or whose purpose of stay is uncertain, one of whom has recently left the country.

Officials are regularly confirming the residential address and place of employment of the remaining 98.

The agency has also banned the entry of 2,713 internationally wanted terrorists from 69 states, based on a list secured from the Interpol, and 119 suspects wanted by Pakistan, officials said.

“We are collaborating with other overseas international investigation bodies to draw up a list of suspected terrorists,” said an official of the NPA.

“Also, high-ranking police officials from the G20 states will be visiting during the summit schedule to closely share the terrorists’ information and to promote security.”

The total number of foreigners who are presently denied access here is around 5,000, including the 184 protesters arrested during the G20 Pittsburgh summit last year, according to officials.

The world has recently stepped up measures against potential terrorists, as explosive packages were placed in major U.S. and European airports allegedly by the al-Qaida.

“The possibilities of terrorist attacks are our greatest concern during the summit period,” said a police official.

Seoul security officials are facing an unprecedented dilemma as the G20 Seoul Summit, unlike others in the past, is to take place in the very core of the city which is frequented by numerous citizens and protesters.

The number of national leaders and international figures who require a top-level escort, however, is the highest ever, including the leaders of 25 states and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

The government earlier enacted the special security law during the summit period and designated the 2-kilometer perimeter around COEX as a special security zone.

The hotels and the National Museum of Korea in Yongsan, which is the official banquet location, are also under special watch, officials said.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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