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Europe boosts counter-terror cooperation with SWAT deal

[THE HAGUE] Counter-terrorism police across Europe staged exercises on Wednesday to mark a cooperation deal between the EU's police agency and a network of SWAT teams.

Europol said the agreement with the Atlas Network of tactical police, set up after the 9/11 attacks on the United States, aimed to increase the "safety of all European citizens" after a wave of terror incidents in Europe.

In Iceland armed police from several countries raided a mock "terrorist ship" heading for Northern Ireland, in Madrid officers stormed a "hijacked" plane, and in Germany forces dealt with a train supposedly carrying a dirty bomb.

SWAT officers meanwhile set off stun grenades during a live demonstration of a tactical assault outside Europol HQ in The Hague.

"We see an increase of organised crime in Europe and we see also the threat of terrorism. So we have to give all the time a very efficient law enforcement answer, we have to test it," Europol Executive Director Catherine De Bolle told AFP.

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The deal will see the Atlas network - which links police "special intervention units" from all 28 EU countries plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland - set up a permanent coordination office at Europol HQ.

Ms De Bolle said it would "bring added value to the preparedness of the law enforcement community and therefore for the safety of all European citizens."

The exercise at Europol HQ took place just a few hundred metres from where Netherlands security forces said they had caught four Russian spies trying to hack the nearby seat of the world's chemical weapons watchdog.


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