Daesh terrorist group is preparing plans to destabilize Central Asia and Russia’s southern regions, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Friday, adding that the existence of terrorist cells in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states has been confirmed.

It is necessary to improve coordination of the SCO organization’s intelligence agencies, Putin said.

“Clandestine Daesh cells have been created and operate in the SCO countries. This was shown by the investigation of the terrorist attack in St. Petersburg, Russia, as well. According to available data, Daesh is preparing new plans for the destabilization of Central Asia and the southern regions of Russia. It is necessary to improve coordination of the [SCO] organization’s intelligence agencies, including through regional anti-terrorism structure,” Putin said at the SCO leaders’ meeting in Astana.

Meanwhile, the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) helped prevent over 40 crimes linked to terrorism, including 16 terrorist attacks in 2016. According to SCO RATS Executive Committee Director Yevgeniy Sysoyev, “over 100 members of international terrorist organizations have been arrested and held accountable.”

The SCO is a political, military and economic alliance comprising Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Its two-day summit kicked off on Thursday in the Kazakh capital, Astana. The agenda of the summit includes issues related to cooperation in fight against international terrorism, security and the situation in the Middle East and Afghanistan.

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