'Gunmen' storm Padang in security exercise

Several "gunmen" attacked "spectators" at the Padang but were swiftly taken out by the Emergency Response Team and Ground Response Force. It was part of a large-scale counter-terrorism exercise by the Singapore Police Force ahead of National Day.
An officer from the Rapid Deployment Troops (in black) and members of the Armed Strike Team (in grey) preparing to face down "gunmen" during a large-scale counter-terror drill at the Padang yesterday.
An officer from the Rapid Deployment Troops (in black) and members of the Armed Strike Team (in grey) preparing to face down "gunmen" during a large-scale counter-terror drill at the Padang yesterday.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Police display counter-terrorism capabilities in safety drill for NDP

The spectator stands at the Padang, where this year's National Day Parade (NDP) will be held, were rattled by the sounds of gunshots and screams early yesterday morning as the police staged a large-scale counter-terrorism exercise.

Several "gunmen" opened fire at "spectators" where they were seated, but the perpetrators were swiftly taken out by first responders - the Emergency Response Team and Ground Response Force, both from the Singapore Police Force.

Right after this first threat was contained, four more "gunmen" showed up in the neighbouring section.

But a second wave of responders from the Gurkha Contingent, Rapid Deployment Troops and Special Tactics and Rescue Unit swarmed in to neutralise the threat.

Once the area was secured, Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers conducted rescue operations and attended to the injured.

The exercise was one of the largest security demonstrations by the police, meant to showcase their capabilities in dealing with armed attacks.

More than 200 officers from the Clementi Police Division, Public Transport Security Command, Special Operations Command, Gurkha Contingent and the SCDF were involved in the exercise, held a week before Singapore's birthday bash.

An officer from the Rapid Deployment Troops (in black) and members of the Armed Strike Team (in grey) preparing to face down "gunmen" during a large-scale counter-terror drill at the Padang yesterday.
An officer from the Rapid Deployment Troops (in black) and members of the Armed Strike Team (in grey) preparing to face down "gunmen" during a large-scale counter-terror drill at the Padang yesterday. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Home Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, who observed the exercise, said that the NDP is an iconic event for Singapore and that the police take security at the event very seriously.

Earlier, at the City Hall MRT station, another threat scenario had four officers from the Public Transport Security Command take down two men wielding knives, but not before one of them held a "commuter" hostage when confronted by police officers. The "hostage" escaped unharmed.

Mr Shanmugam said it is important to secure the seven MRT stations around the Padang, where thousands of people will pass through, to assure members of the public of their safety.

"That assurance works two ways. One, we have to have internal assurance in our own people. And, of course, members of the public will also be assured by seeing the presence and abilities (of the security forces)," he said.

The minister added that the police play the primary role in counter-terrorism efforts here and that the Singapore Armed Forces will provide support as required by the police.

 
 

The SCDF conducted an exercise at the Padang as well. The exercise on July 24, which involved 400 participants and 42 emergency vehicles, was to test its responses to a fire and the release of a chemical agent.

The police said on Thursday that this year's NDP had been declared an enhanced security special event under the Public Order Act.

The police have also issued a list of items prohibited within the special event area around the Padang. These include loudhailers, firearms and unmanned aerial vehicles.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 03, 2019, with the headline ''Gunmen' storm Padang in security exercise'. Print Edition | Subscribe