Saxons could carry weapons

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 June, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 June, 1995, 12:00am

THE armoured personnel carriers used to crash barricades at High Island could be fitted with machine-guns, although they were not designed to carry weapons, it was revealed yesterday.

The Police Tactical Unit's Saxon carriers, rarely deployed in the territory except against rioting Vietnamese boat people, have been used to fire only tear gas.

Mike Docherty, spokesman for the British manufacturer, GKN Defence, said the eight-tonne carriers were not meant to be fighting vehicles although the Malaysian police force had fitted machine-guns to its fleet.

But the officer-in-charge of the Police Personnel Carrier Unit, Senior Inspector Chan Cheung-yu, yesterday declined to reveal whether the Saxons would be fitted with the weapons.

Mr Chan said the seven Saxons, bought in 1988 to replace the obsolete Saracen carriers, were only rarely deployed, and when they were they usually remained on standby.

He said he could not elaborate on the operations because they were 'confidential'.

The carriers were used at Whitehead detention centre last year for the first time in two years. And before the operation at High Island they had been used again at Whitehead last month.

Each four-wheeled vehicle is made out of special all-welded steel and is capable of carrying eight armed officers as well as the driver and commander.

The British Army has more than 600 Saxons. It uses them in Northern Ireland and Bosnia.