Halloween barriers put up in Lan Kwai Fong to prevent European-style car terror attacks
The measures are in response to attacks in Europe over the past two years in which culprits used vehicles to ram crowds of people
Barriers to prevent car-ramming terror attacks similar to the ones in Europe were used in Hong Kong’s Lan Kwai Fong entertainment area in a bid to keep tens of thousands of Halloween revellers safe on Tuesday night.
At least 600 officers, including members of the Counter Terrorism Response Unit, were deployed in the Central district nightclub area as parties were expected to last throughout the night.
The measures were in response to terrorist attacks in Europe over the past two years in which culprits used vehicles to ram crowds of people, inflicting a high number of casualties, a police source said.
The source said the city’s overall terrorism threat level remained “moderate” and there was no intelligence to suggest the city would be targeted for attack.
Barriers were placed at the intersection of Queen’s Road Central and D’Aguilar Street, as well as the junction of Wyndham Street and D’Aguilar Street soon after police enforce road closures at about 7pm.
“The vehicle barriers can withstand a car or truck driven at high speed. It is designed to jam the tyres of vehicle in order to make it stop,” the source said.
The barriers were bought from Israel and delivered a few months ago. They were used in Tsim Sha Tsui during the firework display on National Day.
When asked why the barriers were used instead of huge plastic barricades filled with water, the source said the new ones were less “alarming” and easy to set up.
The enhanced security had little affect on the fun being had by the massive crowds who flooded the streets in their favourite costumes, but business owners such as Jeff Moss were less than pleased.
“At first I was unhappy. It’s unfortunate that it’s in front of my shop,” Moss, who owns a bar on D’Aguilar Street, said. “I can see there are more police and barricades than in prior years.”
Moss said his business rose by 30 per cent last Saturday but expected less business on Tuesday because Halloween fell on a weekday.
Sarah Paskeline, who was decked out in fancy dress and was visiting the extravaganza for the fourth time, said the streets were quieter and fewer people dressed up than the years before.
She also noticed more police and barricades.
“It’s spoiled the fun a little bit,” she said.
Officers from the Counter Terrorism Response Unit patrolled outside Lan Kwai Fong area to guard against any threats.
“Their high-profile presence has a deterrent effect,” the police source said.
Tuesday night’s operation included about 200 part-time police officers. Police dogs were also deployed.
“The operation was expected to be scaled down during the early hours of Wednesday,” he said.
Police in several countries have stepped up security during festivals and holidays following vehicle attacks in Europe.
An attack in Barcelona in August left 14 people dead after a van sped down the popular Las Ramblas avenue, which was packed full of tourists.
In June, seven people were killed and dozens wounded when a van smashed into pedestrians on London Bridge before three assailants went on a stabbing spree. It followed a March attack that left five people dead after a van was driven into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge.
In December last year, 12 people died when a truck ploughed into crowds at a Berlin Christmas market in Germany.
In July last year, 86 people died when a truck was driven through a crowd of revellers watching Bastille Day fireworks in Nice, France.