800 volunteers have taken part in a police training exercise simulating a terrorist attack at the Trafford Centre.
From around midnight on Monday 9 May, police dressed in riot gear swarmed into the Manchester shopping complex and carried out a simulated suicide bomb attack.
Traffic officers closed down the entire shopping complex, blocking main roads and cordoning off specific areas.
Inside, officers piled into the Orient food court at the Trafford Centre’s southern entrance, armed with MP5 semi-automatic machine guns, moving swiftly across the hall.
A lone man dressed in black walked into the open area shouting indiscriminately, and suddenly a huge bang seemed to shudder the foundations of the massive building.
The ‘killer’ blew up a device, maiming some of the 800 ‘shoppers’ taking part.
Realistic smoke engulfed the hall and volunteers either fell to the floor or raced toward the exits screaming in terror – as emergency crews believe would really happen in the aftermath of an attack.
Volunteers cry out ‘Help me please’ as police stalk into the hall shouting for the bomber to put up his hands.
The drill was filmed and released to the media this morning.
The counter-terrorism drill – codenamed Winchester Accord – was set up to see how well emergency services could cope with a real terrorist attack.
Officers have been taking part in training for the live simulation for the past six months.
Greater Manchester Police said the exercise was not linked to any specific threat, but that they would remain on high alert after terrorist bomb plots in Paris and Brussels.
The most prominent terrorist attack on Manchester remains the 1996 IRA bomb blast in the city centre, where 212 people were injured when a bomb in a van blew up in the Exchange Square shopping district
Since the rise of the so-called Islamic State officials in several European countries have admitted that their police and security forces have stopped multiple terror plots, including Germany, Belgium, France and the UK.
Police were later forced to apologise after it emerged the ‘suicide bomber’ had shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is great, in Arabic) before detonating the fake bomb.
Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd was quick to throw his colleagues under the bus, commenting: “It is frustrating the operation has been marred by the ill-judged, unnecessary and unacceptable decision by organisers to have those playing the parts of terrorists to shout ‘Allah Akbar’ [sic] before setting off their fake bombs.
“It didn’t add anything to the event, but has the potential to undermine the great community relations we have in Greater Manchester.”
Main image: © MEN Media