Hong Kong police conduct another large-scale antiterror drill three days before Ariana Grande concert
Operation involved more than 200 officers from Counter Terrorism Response Unit, Police Tactical Unit and Hong Kong Island’s Emergency Unit
More than 200 Hong Kong police officers, including the force’s elite anti-terrorist squad, launched a second large-scale antiterrorism drill in three weeks on Monday, days ahead of US singer Ariana Grande’s much-anticipated local performance.
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 iconic 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 concert hall.
Officers arrived at the scene and gunned 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 previous one, held about three weeks ago, involved more than 200 officers at Hong Kong Stadium.
The drill on Monday 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.
In May, a 22-year-old British Muslim of Libyan ancestry detonated explosives at the end of Grande’s concert in Manchester Arena in England, killing himself as well as 22 concert-goers and parents who were at the entrance waiting to pick up their children.
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 screen out assailants from the crowd as they tried to escape.
Another aim was to raise public awareness about 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 report.
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 mute their phones.
They can call 999 and give police details about the scene and the assailants when in a safe situation.
A similar “run, hide, tell” instruction was first introduced by Britain’s National Counter Terrorism Security Office in December 2015, after the Paris attacks.