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Terrorism & Security

Olympic torch to scale Everest amid tight security

The Chinese have closely guarded their plan to carry the Olympic flame to the top of the world's highest mountain.

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The blog Peak Freaks says that teams coming down from Camp 2 reported a sign saying, "Dear Climbers, Do Not Go Past This Point." Another climber said armed security personnel were posted at Camp 2, according to the blog Explorersweb, which regularly reports on Mt. Everest:

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"There is a small police post at 6400m on Everest and the one armed soldier does the rounds each day, with conspicuous sniper rifle, however they mostly give a friendly Namasté [greeting]."

Still, because of what's seen as a threat from protesters, the actual torch route and dates remains shrouded in secrecy. Reuters correspondent Nick Mulvenney, who has been blogging about the Everest trip here, reported that the torch had left the base camp on Tuesday of this week, although the report's veracity was later questioned.

On their way up to base camp, the media passed through a checkpoint and then a large border police encampment outside which stood more than 20 uniformed men armed with AK-47 assault rifles.
Security is also behind the secrecy surrounding the departure date of the climbing team, and large areas of base camp were ruled "out of bounds" to the media on Wednesday and cordoned off by police tape.
One man who has been working at base camp for 10 days, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters that the climbers and flame left on Tuesday. But officials dismissed a similar report on a Chinese website as "fake".

William Brant Holland, the US climber, who is from Virginia, was ejected from the base camp for having a "Free Tibet" banner, The Washington Post reports.

"I was just joking around. 'Check out the flag I'm going to take to the top,' " Holland said. "If I'd realized it was such a high crime, I wouldn't have advertised it."

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