Macau’s Public Security Forces and the local garrison of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) held their first joint drill on Thursday.
The first joint exercise focused on the fight against terrorism. The co-organisers said that the drill was a success.
The counter-terrorism drill code-named “Spirited Dog” was held on Thursday afternoon at two locations, the Macau East Asian Games Dome in Cotai and at Coloane Pier. The drill lasted around two-and-a-half hours.
The exercise was jointly organised by the Unitary Police Service (SPU) and the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Macau Garrison. A total of 900 local police and other personnel and 49 rank and file from the Macau PLA garrison took part in the drill. The garrison deployed seven vehicles and other equipment to the drill.
The local government said earlier this week that officers from the Macau Customs Service, Public Security Police (PSP), Judiciary Police (PJ) and Fire Service Bureau (CB), as well as officials from the Health Bureau (SSM), Government Information Bureau (GCS) and Sports Bureau (ID) would take part in the drill.
“The purpose of the drill was that the government wanted to strengthen coordination between police forces and other relevant entities during emergency situations, and enhance the capabilities of Macau’s public security forces if called upon to respond to a terrorist attack”, a statement by the Macau Government Information Bureau (GCS) said on Thursday.
The GCS statement said that “the drill involved a series of situations, ranging from the use by suspects of firearms in a concert attended by a 5,000-strong audience; dealing with incidents involving explosives; the harmful use of chemical substances; and interception of gunmen in or close to Macau’s waters”.
In fact, the “audience” in the Macau East Asian Games Domes during the drill numbered just a few dozen.
One of the simulations involved a group of six gunmen entering a packed concert hall. The scenario was that security guards thwarted the gunmen’s initial plan and two of the attackers fled the scene in a vehicle, while the remaining four ran into the concert venue and took the audience hostage. During the drill the gunmen fired several shots and claimed to be in possession of chemical weapons.
The police’s special operations unit was dispatched to the concert hall soon after a gunman shot a hostage. The gunmen then set off a radioactive bomb when confronted by the police. While other officers escorted concertgoers to safety, during a thorough search of the venue the police found a remote-controlled device to trigger a bomb explosion. Police sniffer dogs later located a bomb in a nearby car park and a bomb disposal squad carried out a controlled explosion, according to the statement
The statement said that in the other simulation, Customs Service officers intercepted the two fleeing gunmen by using police surveillance cameras set up across the city. The drill simulated a gunman being stopped before leaving Macau, while the other suspect was captured in waters off Coloane.
During the drill several people were “shot” and many others fell “ill” after being exposed to “hazardous substances”. Under the scenario – and in view of the potentially “multiple casualties” and many people being at risk of “exposure” to chemical substances, the chief executive submitted a request to the central government, in line with the Basic Law and other regulations, asking for assistance from the local PLA garrison in helping with decontamination and rescue efforts, according to the statement.
According to the statement, the government will continue to step up its response capabilities for unexpected events in order to maximise protection of members of the public and their property.
Speaking on the sidelines of the drill, SPU Commissioner-General Ma Io Kun told reporters there was no intelligence indicating that Macau would suffer a terrorist attack. He said the exercise was merely meant to prepare for the possibility of the occurrence of such an attack.
Ma also said that the local PLA garrison had been invited to join the drill as its rank and file were more professional in handling chemical materials.