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Singapore stages large-scale mock terror attacks

Singapore mounted its biggest civil emergency exercise, staging a series of mock bombings on its public transport system.

world Updated: Jan 08, 2006 08:54 IST

Singapore mounted its biggest civil emergency exercise on Sunday, staging a series of mock bombings on its public transport system to test the readiness of the public and emergency agencies for a terrorist attack.

Starting before dawn, the drill involved four subway stations along the city-state's famous shopping belt and in the central business district, and a bus terminal in a residential area.

The exercise follows bloody attacks on mass transit systems in Madrid and London, and fears that the same thing could happen in Singapore.

"We hope that through exercises like these, we will be able to educate the public because such a thing can happen in Singapore and when it does happen, we have to know what to do," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told the state broadcaster.

"The public needs to know that the threat of terrorism is real and the active involvement and self-help of the civilian population is very much in need," the Singapore Civil Defence Force said in a statement.

Codenamed 'North Star V', the simulated attacks included explosions inside a train in a tunnel, at a subway platform and on a double-decker bus at a bus interchange, as well as a chemical attack at a metro station. Thunder flashes, simulated fires, smoke generators and other props were used.

Emergency services had to deal with about 500 mock casualties, civil defence personnel and civilian volunteers, who wore special make-up to simulate wounds from burns and shrapnel.

The timing of the drill was announced only on Sunday morning, leaving an estimated 3,400 commuters to be evacuated.

Speaking to local reporters, Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng said the government would not rule out holding a similar emergency exercise during peak hours on a weekday.

Wong, who is also interior minister, announced in September that authorities were planning such a drill in the wake of the July 7 bomb attacks on London's underground trains and a city bus, which killed 56 people.

Singapore, a staunch US ally and a major base for Western businesses, sees itself as a prime terrorism target after foiling plots in 2001 by the Jemaah Islamiah group to attack Western targets.

These included a subway station used by off-duty US military personnel as well as the US and British embassies.

Jemaah Islamiah is a Southeast Asian militant group believed to have close links with Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda.

First Published: Jan 08, 2006 08:54 IST