18-hour operation to test anti-terror response
HEAVILY armed troops from the police and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) turned out in force yesterday across the island, from Marina Bay to Jurong East, to seek out and neutralise a mock terror threat in the country's largest counter-terrorism exercise yet.
The 18-hour operation involved over 3,200 officers, including those from the Singapore Civil Defence Force and other Home Team agencies.
It climaxed at malls in Bishan and Tampines, where "terrorists" armed with M16 rifles and explosive vests took hostages, including in a cinema, before being subdued early this morning.
Earlier yesterday, joint patrols between police and the SAF's Island Defence Task Force, which protects key installations here, were stepped up at over 360 locations such as the financial centre, public transport nodes, shopping malls, residential areas and immigration checkpoints - after receiving intelligence about an imminent attack.
There are two reasons for the exercise, said the police.
One is to test the combined response between the Home Team and the Singapore Armed Forces to a terror attack. The other is to raise public awareness to "the current threat landscape and to encourage continued vigilance".
Over 50 community volunteers also took part in the operation, which began at 10am yesterday and ended at 4am this morning.
The exercise comes as Singapore ramps up its readiness in tackling terror attacks.
On Sept 24, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched SGSecure, a nationwide movement which aims to increase the public's preparedness and resilience.
Last Saturday, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also Coordinating Minister for National Security, launched an SMS alert system which will notify people if there is a major emergency, such as a fire or a terror attack, nearby.
These developments are a response to the growing terror threat from Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and self-radicalised lone wolves to Singapore and the region, which is at its highest level in recent times.