COUNTERTERRORISM

Elite Hong Kong police units simulate London, Berlin and Nice attacks in anti-terror drill ahead of China leaders visit

Top squads put to test in mock battle between armed officers and colleagues posing as terrorists, as force prepares for arrival of Chinese president for city’s handover celebrations

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 May, 2017, 7:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 May, 2017, 1:18pm

Heavily armed terrorists ramming a van into a crowded carnival was one of the scenarios Hong Kong police were training for in Kowloon Bay yesterday as more than 300 armed officers mounted a large-scale anti-terrorism drill in preparation for visits by state leaders next month.

Watch: Elite Hong Kong police units conduct anti-terror drill

The headquarters of the city’s auxiliary police force became the scene of a fierce mock battle between armed officers and police posing as terrorists.

Top squads including the Special Duties Unit – also known as the Flying Tigers – the Counter Terrorism Response Unit, Police Tactical Unit and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Bureau were put through their paces to gauge their readiness for a terrorist attack.

The force’s top brass, including deputy police chief Alan Lau Yip-shing, attended the exercise, the first of its kind.

“The drill was designed to test the readiness and response of different units and how they coordinate with each other,” a senior police source said. “Each unit cannot work alone if an attack really happens.”

Simulating recent deadly terrorist attacks in London, Berlin and Nice, a group of heavily armed “mainland terrorists” drove a van into a crowd at a carnival, attacking people with knives, pistols and grenades.

The scenario saw the terrorists take several hostages and move into a nearby building, prompting the force to send in negotiators to secure their release.

The “terrorists” were eventually subdued by elite officers from the Flying Tigers, the force’s main paramilitary special operations unit. Bomb disposal experts were also deployed to disarm an explosive device found under the van.

“We try to simulate all the tactics used in recent deadly attacks,” the source said. “We also hope to raise public awareness of terrorist attacks as Hong Kong could be a potential target.”

The main objectives ... were to test the force’s ability to handle several major incidents at the same time
John Tse Chun-chung, senior police superintendent

The source added there was no intelligence yet to suggest that Hong Kong was specifically targeted for attack, and that the terrorism threat level remained “moderate”.

John Tse Chun-chung, senior superintendent of the force’s public relations branch, said aside from the drill in Kowloon Bay other exercises were held at other venues simultaneously.

“The main objectives of this exercise were to test the force’s ability to handle several major incidents at the same time as well as coordination of our units within the force and with other government departments as well as other organisations.”

On Monday the force began its largest anti-terror drill to date, a five-day exercise code-named “Hardshield”, to ensure officers were ready for any emergency.

The Post reported earlier that around 10,000 officers – a third of the city’s police force – would be deployed to protect President Xi Jinping who is expected to pay a three-day visit to Hong Kong for celebrations on July 1 for the 20th anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese rule.

On Monday police also released a list of dos and don’ts for the public on how to respond to emergency situations at major public facilities.