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Hsuehshan Tunnel to be closed for military exercises

ROC Central News Agency

2016/08/22 18:12:13

Taipei, Aug. 22 (CNA) The Hsuehshan Tunnel on the No. 5 National Freeway will be closed from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday for Taiwan's annual Han Kuang military exercises, according to the National Freeway Bureau.

The Shiding to Toucheng section of the highway, including the Hsuehshan Tunnel, will be closed to traffic during the six-hour stretches for military exercises designed to help prepare for natural disasters and road accidents, the bureau said.

The national freeway bureau suggested that motorists who had planned to use the No. 5 National Freeway between Shiding and Toucheng during the affected time frames opt for the Provincial Highway No. 9 instead.

The bureau also reminded motorists to pay attention to changeable road signs and traffic warning signs for the freeway section during the drills.

Kamalan Bus Inc. ,which operates bus services between the greater Taipei area and Yilan County, announced Monday that it will partially suspend service on the route after 11 p.m. Monday and cancel all service from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.

It said it will refund or exchange bus tickets purchased for travel during the periods when service has been suspended.

The military's annual Han Kuang series of exercises kicked off on Monday, starting with small-scale drills aimed at putting the defensive capabilities of Taiwan's armed forces to the test.

The five-day exercises, which simulate attacks by China, will be staged on Taiwan proper and on its outlying islands until Friday, according to the Ministry of National Defense.

This year, the ministry has arranged for an additional military drill simulating a blocked tunnel scenario in the 12.9-kilometer-long Hsuehshan Tunnel on Wednesday, and a rehearsal for the drill will be staged Tuesday.

By simulating various Chinese attack scenarios, the drills "are aimed at testing the military's combat capabilities and testing the effectiveness of military mobilization, in an effort to bolster the country's overall combat capabilities," the ministry said.

The exercises -- Taiwan's most important annual war games involving all branches of the military -- will feature a set of live-fire drills and have the Army, Navy and Air Force test their joint response to simulated threats from China, the ministry said.

The major live-fire exercises will involve the Air Force in Penghu County on Aug. 23, the Navy on Aug. 23 and Aug. 25, and joint drills of the Army, Navy and Air Force in Pingtung County, also on Aug. 25, according to the ministry.

In addition, anti-landing drills will be staged on the offshore island of Kinmen and southeastern Pingtung County on Aug. 25, the ministry said.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will preside over the exercises in Pingtung for the first time in her capacity as commander-in-chief, after being sworn in as president on May 20, the ministry said.

The exercises will also focus on electronic warfare and cyber attacks to keep up with the global trend of advancing development of cyber warfare capabilities.

This year's drills will draft information technology specialists in the military reserves for the first time to take part in exercises planned to respond to possible cyber attacks, the ministry said.

The National Airborne Service Corps, meanwhile, will join the live-fire drills for the first time this year to test cross-ministry cooperation in the event of an enemy invasion, according to the ministry.

Also, a number of the nation's newly acquired advanced weapons systems, including the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and the AS-365 helicopter, will be used in the exercises, it said.

(By Chen Wei-ting, Claudia Liu and Evelyn Kao)

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