Sun, Dec 21, 2008 - Page 4 News List

Manila conducts suicide bombing simulation exercise

AFP , MANILA

Bodies lay scattered in all directions as scores of Filipinos took part in a massive exercise yesterday, simulating a suicide bombing on Manila’s overhead railway.

The exercise saw people playing victims in the overhead trains, lying on the floor, supposedly injured or dead with simulated blood splashed over the train seats, eyewitnesses said.

Aside from testing the preparedness of response teams, the exercise was also aimed at boosting public awareness of the threat of terror attacks, government officials said.

The exercise came just two days after two bombs exploded in shops in the southern city of Iligan, killing two people and injuring 53 others.

However city police chief, Director Leopoldo Bataoil said the exercise was not linked to the Iligan blasts, stressing that the drill had been planned a month ago, “to show how the government is ready to contain these kind of incidents.”

Justice Undersecretary Ricardo Blancaflor said the exercise involved a scenario where a suspected suicide bomber is spotted by passengers on one of the trains, causing panic.

“The door of the train had not opened yet when the bomb around the body of the terrorist suddenly exploded. Commotion ensued following the explosion. The presumed attack left hundreds of passengers dead,” Blancaflor said in a statement, explaining the scenario.

Medical teams arrived at the scene, tagging the “victims” to mark those who were near death and those who were already deceased. They were followed by bomb disposal teams including bomb-sniffing dogs.

Commandos also searched the train and arrested another suicide bomber who had not yet set off his devices, eyewitnesses said.

Military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres said authorities consider the threat of another bomb attack to be “continuing” although he would not say if there was any specific plot to bomb the capital.

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