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Russia-China war games battle extremists, separatists

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MOSCOWRussia and China on Wednesday opened week-long joint war games designed to counter a hypothetical threat from Islamist extremists or ethnic separatists that both countries insist look increasingly realistic.

The coordinated land and air force exercises, dubbed "Peace Mission 2009," is not the first time the two Eurasian giants have flexed their collective military muscles, but experts say both are driven by a growing sense of urgency stemming from what they see as a deteriorating security picture in Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan, as well as the eruption of ethnic riots in China's Xinjiang Province earlier this month, which killed almost 200 people according to official figures.

"Terrorist groups are using various measures, and they make use of Islamic slogans to carry out terrorist attacks," Nikolai Makarov, chief of the Russian Armed Forces' General Staff told the official RIA-Novosti agency.

"The latest incident [in Xinjiang] shows that more and more separatist, extremist, and terrorist forces are emerging," he added.

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