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Mock terror exercise staged at Karachi women’s varsity

Updated February 10, 2016

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Students watch curiously as police commandos posing as militants ‘attack’ their institution during an awareness exercise on the private university campus on Tuesday.—White Star
Students watch curiously as police commandos posing as militants ‘attack’ their institution during an awareness exercise on the private university campus on Tuesday.—White Star

KARACHI: Hundreds of students of the Jinnah University for Women on Tuesday attended Sindh police’s hostile environment awareness training on their campus which saw them screaming when the commandos of the Special Security Unit (SSU) staged a mock gun battle with armed attackers and killed them amid smoke, explosions and gunfire.

All this was part of a mock exercise to give the girl students a real feel of such a situation and prepare them for a counterstrike.

The exercise was part of the SSU’s hostile environment awareness training launched by the Sindh police after the attack on the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda last month, which picked Jinnah University for Women as the second on its list after the same session was held at the University of Karachi last week.

“We have designed this programme mainly to cater to teachers, students, journalists and other media persons and professionals associated with different fields to equip them with the basic skills to counter such a situation,” SSU SP Muhammad Muzaffar Iqbal told the participants before the training began. “These days you must be aware of such skills. You need to know how to react in case of an attack or assault-like situation to protect yourself and the people around you. This exercise would help you in that a lot.”

After brief speeches from the university’s senior faculty members and SSU officials, the students were first told about weapons of different calibres and their use. The students and faculty members were given a detailed briefing about the arms, which are mainly used in such battles by militants and which included a shotgun commonly known as repeater, assault rifle AK-47, or Kalashnikov, rocket propelled grenade-seven, sub-machine MP5, gas gun, G3 and M16 rifles.

Following the briefing about the arms, the crowded lawns of the Jinnah University for Women were stormed by “masked gunmen” in line with the mock exercise already announced by SSU officials. Then entered the SSU commandos, who first engaged the “gunmen” in a gunfight and finally killed them all.

In the process they used different devices for smoke and explosions to give the exercise a look close to reality which caused quite a stir among the students who screamed while witnessing the mock exchange of gunfire between the two sides. The exercise lasted a few minutes and after that SP Iqbal of the SSU explained the reasons for organising the event calling it important to sensitise the students and faculty members on security needs in the wake of recent terrorist attacks on educational institutions.

In a separate statement, the spokesman for the SSU said that following directives from the authorities, the unit had prepared a list of all universities and also invited different organisations to arrange that exercise at their places for their awareness.

“The programme includes a mock exercise of such an event and then train the participants about those tactics and skills to foil an attack,” said the statement elaborating different sections of the programme. “The participants are also briefed about different automatic weapons and how to keep themselves safe from those arms. The programme has so far attracted great response from students and all other participants.”

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2016