More than 200 Hong Kong police officers launched a large-scale antiterrorism drill yesterday, days ahead of US singer Ariana Grande’s performance in the city. This is the second antiterrorism drill in three weeks that’s been conducted by police.
The early morning drill at City Hall building in Edinburgh Place in Central involved officers from the Counter Terrorism Response Unit, Police Tactical Unit and Hong Kong Island’s Emergency Unit.
They were deployed to tackle seven “gunmen” raiding the city’s complex for municipal services, performance venues and libraries in a constructed scenario.
The assailants, role-played by other officers, began a shooting spree in a lobby, “killing” a number of people before bursting into a packed concert hall.
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Officers arrived at the scene and took down most of the terrorists after a tactical entry.
An attacker who attempted to flee by mingling with concert-goers was successfully screened out and subdued.
The 20-minute operation was the 13th anti-terrorist exercise mounted by police in this year.
The drill came three days before US pop star Ariana Grande’s concert at AsiaWorld-Expo on Lantau Island, but police said the exercise was not related to the performance.
Superintendent Elvin See Kam-sho from the police counterterrorism and internal security division said Hong Kong’s terrorism threat level remained moderate, as the authorities suggested there was no specific intelligence indicating an imminent attack.
He said one of the aims of this exercise was to gauge the officers’ ability to identify assailants in the crowd as they tried to escape.
Another aim was to raise public awareness of terror attacks as police issued a new rule of thumb to help residents remember what to do in case of an attack: run, hide, and tell. Members of the public are advised to run out of the attackers’ lines of sight and leave the scene via a safe route instead of staying at the scene and taking photos or videos. If running is not possible, they are advised to hide and keep their phones on silent.
They should, when safe, call 999 and give police details about the scene and the assailants.
17-year-old Anushka Purohit of Renaissance College Hong Kong finds the drill a good precaution “after the events in Manchester”, referring to the explosions at the pop singer’s concert in May in Britain. The Grande fan thinks such a precaution should be in place for all concerts, as it’s an extra layer of reassurance for parents who allow their children to go to concerts with their friends.
A fellow Arianator added they think it’s important to learn and remember the “run, hide, and tell” rule – “not just for the concert but for public events in general,” said Dea Puentespina.
Edited by Ginny Wong