Vietnam carries out terrorism drill at international airport

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Smoke rising during an anti-terrorism drill at Tan Son Nhat International Airport November 30 morning. PHOTO: DAN TRI

Gunmen killed three employees and injured several passengers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City November 30 morning.

At least that's what it looked like when Ho Chi Minh City Police and other agencies acted out the scenario in full as part of an anti-terrorism training drill. 

A group of 15 "terrorists" arrived at Tan Son Nhat by three seven-seat cars, according to the HCMC Steering Committee for Aviation Emergencies, which held the event at the airport's international terminal.

Dang Tuan Tu, the airport's director and member of the committee, said the gunmen carried suitcases with guns and bombs inside and disguised themselves as passengers to check in.

Airport security found a pistol on one of them and apprehended the carrier. But the others then took guns from their suitcases, shooting and killing two security officers, one border gate police officer, and injuring some passengers.

They then held about 200 passengers and airport employees as hostages.

The airport halted all operations, evacuated other passengers out of dangerous areas, and required carriers to move aircraft from their onramps to prevent aircraft hijacking.

Security forces at the airport tried to persuade the gunmen not to kill the hostages, waiting for police and relevant agencies to intervene.

Police killed some of the gunmen and caught several others alive as they rescued the hostages.

Tu told Tuoi Tre it was the largest terrorist drill at the airport since 2005 .

Colonel Nguyen Sy Quang, spokesman of the HCMC Police Department and member of the HCMC Steering Committee for Aviation Emergencies, said the drill included four parts: suppressing the terrorists, rescuing hostages, searching for bombs and detonating them with the help of trained dogs and robots, and carrying out health care activities.

About 1,000 employees from the HCMC Police Department, Health Department, Department of Foreign Affairs, Airport Security High Command and Vietnam Airlines took part in the drill.

It was carried out under the guidance of the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Transport.
"The drill aimed to assess combat capacity and cooperation in an aviation emergency situation at Tan Son Nhat Airport in order that participating forces could work together smoothly and avoid damages in real situations," Quang was quoted by Nguoi Lao Dong as saying.

Representatives of 44 international carriers operating at the airport were invited to the event.

According to Nguoi Lao Dong, during the drill, carriers still operated at other parts of the airport as usual.

Currently the country's largest airport, Tan Son Nhat receives more than 400 aircraft per day.

Similar terrorism and hostage rescue drills have been held throughout the country, including at My Dinh Stadium in Hanoi last month and at Da Lat Lien Khuong Airport in Lam Dong Province last December.

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