Gunfire in Tampines during counter-terrorism exercise
Terrorist attacks were simulated islandwide in Singapore's largest counter-terrorism exercise ever held. The two-day event, which began on Monday, saw more than 3,000 personnel responding to the 'attacks' and taking down the terrorists
Early yesterday morning, gunfire and screams erupted at malls in Tampines and Bishan.
Masked gunmen armed with rifles and explosive vests flooded the malls, taking hostages at some point, and gunning down civilians.
But within minutes of the 12.30am attack, men in black from the Singapore Police Force's Emergency Response Team (ERT) and the Singapore Armed Force's (SAF) Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) rushed to the scene and swarmed the gunmen.
These were some of the scenarios that played out across the island while most Singaporeans were sound asleep. They were part of the largest counter-terrorism exercise ever held here.
The two-day anti-terror exercise, which began on Monday morning, was conducted by the police and supported by other Home Team agencies and the SAF.
At Junction 8 mall, the Army Deployment Force blocked the terrorists' escape routes, sealing their fates.
JUNCTION 8 MALL: The Singapore Police Force's ERT, together with the Army's SOTF and ADF teams engaged in a fierce firefight with terrorists. TNP PHOTO: AHMAD FARUQ BIN ROZALI
At Tampines mall, when some of the terrorists barricaded themselves with more hostages in a Golden Village cinema, the SOTF counter-terrorists swiftly blew down the doors and stormed the place.
The 19 terrorists were eventually killed or arrested after a fierce gunfight.
Paramedics from the Singapore Civil Defence Force then rushed to tend to the wounded. A medical support vehicle, acting as a mobile hospital, was also set up for the more serious cases. But the threat was not over.
At the Tuas and Woodlands checkpoints, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA) officers and the SAF's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives (CBRE) personnel had to deal with threats of an escaping terrorist and a vehicle rigged with explosives.
AT TAMPINES MALL: The Singapore Police Force's Anti-Swarming Team take out eight terrorists who were armed with explosives and firearms. TNP PHOTO: GAVIN FOO
The exercise was meant to test the readiness and emergency response of various agencies.
More than 3,200 personnel, as well as more than 50 volunteers from the People's Association and Civil Defence Lionhearters took part.
This was also the first time pre- and post-attack measures — such as deterrence patrols all over the island in commercial areas, MRT stations, the heartlands and the checkpoints — were included.
At around 6pm, blue-clad SPF Ground Response Force officers were seen patrolling JEM and Westgate shopping malls together with Public Transport Security Command and SAF's Island Defence Task Force officers.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, together with Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen and Senior Minister of State for Defence Ong Ye Kung, were at Tampines on Tuesday morning to observe the joint exercise.
Speaking to the media after the exercise, DPM Teo said the multi-agency exercise was important in bringing together the Home Team agencies and the SAF to prepare for such an attack.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Lau Peet Meng said the exercise had given officers more confidence in tackling multiple terror attacks.
"The exercise had allowed us to become more familiar with each other's operating procedure, instilling confidence from our ground troops to the command elements, and also with the community," he said.
The exercise comes as Singapore ramps up its readiness in tackling terror attacks.
Last month, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong launched SGSecure, a nationwide movement which aims to increase the public's preparedness and resilience.
DPM Teo: Terror threat in region on the rise
The terror threat in the region is higher than what Singapore has seen for years, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday morning.
Speaking to the media in Tampines at the close of the multi-agency islandwide counter-terrorism exercise, DPM Teo said the terror threat in South-east Asia may be spiked by what is happening in Syria.
"The fight is on now in Syria, and ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) may be disrupted in Syria," he said.
"That means the terrorists who have gone there may well return home and that is likely to increase the threat in our region."
The region has seen an increase of terror-related incidents over the past year.
In August, Indonesian authorities arrested five members of a terror cell in Batam who had been planning a rocket attack on Marina Bay.
Last week, Malaysian police announced they had arrested 16 terror suspects after a two-week operation in six states.
DPM Teo, who is also the Coordinating Minister for National Security, said Singapore will take the terror threat seriously.
"Not just security forces, but everyone in Singapore (has) to stay alert, stay united and stay strong," he said.
He said the two-day exercise had helped the various agencies develop new and joint operating procedures to prepare for possible terror attacks.
"Over the last several months both the Home Team and SAF have worked together to develop new... (and) joint procedures.
"Today's exercise was an opportunity for them to exercise and validate them.
"And there are also lessons to be learnt which they will take back and improve," he said.
Timeline of 'terror'
Many bomb attacks occur in our neighbouring countries. The terror threat is raised and more Home Team and Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel are deployed for security and border patrols.
Soldiers are activated by SAF headquarters. They are also put through refresher training ahead of deployment for patrols as part of the Island Defence Task Force (IDTF).
The Singapore Police Force's Ground Response Force and the IDTF carry out joint patrols at 360 locations all over Singapore, including the Marina Bay Financial Centre, Jurong East MRT station and in the heartlands. Security at the checkpoints is also heightened.
1 MARINA COUNTRY CLUB
The first simulated terror incident occurs when armed terrorists infiltrate Singapore via a boat and begin shooting civilians at Marina Country Club in Punggol.
Singapore Police Force (SPF) officers rush in to contain the situation and minimise casualties.
2 JUNCTION 8
Seven terrorists with rifles and grenades open fire at members of the public at Junction 8.
The police Emergency Response Team (ERT)respond quickly to contain the threat.
Shortly afterwards, the SAF's Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) are called in to eliminate the terrorists while the Army Deployment Force cordons off their escape routes.
3 CENTURY SQUARE
At the same time, four terrorists lead a swarm attack at Century Square in Tampines. The police's ERT, Ground Response Force (GRF) and Anti-Swarming Team (AST) are sent in and take them down.
4 TAMPINES MALL
Shoppers are attacked by terrorists at Tampines Mall and are subdued by ERT personnel, who apprehend a gunman. The AST deal with the other terrorists, including a suicide bomber.
The SAF's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives team (CBRE) diffuse the bomb.
Desperate terrorists also hold hostages outside the Golden Village cinema.
The SOTF storm the scene and kill them.
5 TUAS CHECKPOINT
Immigration and Checkpoints Authority of Singapore (ICA) officers detect a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device at Tuas Checkpoint and call in the SAF's CBRE team to diffuse the threat.
6 WOODLANDS CHECKPOINT
A terrorist attempting to escape the country is apprehended by ICA officers at Woodlands Checkpoint.
Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers attend to the injured while Company Emergency Response Team (CERT) officers render first aid at first aid points.
Officers from the Criminal Investigation Department's Post-blast Investigation team carry out post-incident investigations.
Terror attacks in malls in other countries
JAN 14, 2016
ISIS-linked militants coordinated a slew of attacks and suicide bombings in downtown Jakarta, where the popular Sarinah mall is located. The attacks left seven people dead, including five attackers.
SEPT 21, 2013
Somali gunmen from terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, massacred 67 people in a deadly four-day siege in Westgate Mall in Kenya. The country declared three days of national mourning after the attack.