Home Team forces react swiftly to mock terror attack

A blast at Downtown MRT station sent shock waves inside the Marina Bay Link Mall early yesterday morning. Moments later, gunmen stormed the shopping mall located in the heart of Singapore's financial district, raining bullets and chaos over the early morning calm.

However, the attackers were quickly subdued by police officers from the Central Police Division, who arrived at the scene within minutes. With the "terrorists" in custody, officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force rendered first aid to the victims and evacuated them.

The above scenario was played out during yesterday's Exercise Heartbeat, a drill to test the readiness of Home Team forces in responding to potential terror attacks.

Now in its sixth year, the annual exercise is organised by the police and SCDF. It also involves members of the Safety and Security Watch Group, a commercial sector body that partners the police in security efforts.

This year was also the first time the exercise was held in a mixed development or an area which integrates residential, business and retail facilities like Marina Bay Link Mall. Previously, the drills were held in public areas like train stations and hotels.

A total of 256 Home Team officers and community partners were involved in yesterday's exercise.

Blanks were fired and special effects used to simulate the terror attacks.


Deputy Superintendent Tan Yong Liang, commanding officer of Marina Bay Neighbourhood Police Centre, said: "As terror threats evolve, we'll continue to conduct exercises regularly with the other Home Team departments and as well as out community partners to ensure our joint response plan is robust and well co-ordinated."

Member of Parliament for Moulmein-Kallang GRC and Mayor for Central Singapore Community Development Council Denise Phua, who observed the drill, told reporters: "This is a very important exercise because terror incidents are very real in Singapore and we must never take our safety and our security for granted."

She added: "Attacks like these can happen across settings, whether in neighbourhood areas or downtown areas like this. It is really important to be ready." The final scenario of Exercise Heartbeat will take place at IMM Building today.

This article was first published on October 27, 2014.
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