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New commander looks to beef up anti-terrorism unit

A recently appointed commander to Hungary's elite anti-terrorism task force (TESZ) plans to improve the performance of the unit by streamlining its responsibilities, MTI learnt on Thursday. TESZ is deployed in the event of a terrorist attack, kidnapping, hijacking of aircraft or an attack caused by a harmful and mentally ill person, Commander Péter Surányi told MTI. In addition to these tasks, TESZ is also summoned to guard prisoners during air transport, guard top-priced valuables, and persons under high risk of terrorism. Surányi would like to see those services not strictly requiring their special skills and professional training transferred to other police forces, for example domestic prisoner escorting. In July this year, Hungary became a full member of the EU anti-terrorism team, set up to co-ordinate activities between member states, Surányi said. Currently, the Hungarian unit has more than 100 staff, but raising this number is also necessary. Staff is of an average age of 28-30 and is selected through a strict process of physical and psychological tests. TESZ is deployed at some 150 incidents a year, 80 % of which involves apprehension of dangerous criminals.