PRAGUE, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- The Czech Republic held on Tuesday its largest ever anti-terrorist exercise in the Congress Centre of Prague, the capital city, with the participation of police rapid reaction unit, firefighters and rescuers.
The Demon 2018 anti-terrorist exercise was attended by a total of 400 police officers, while some 2,000 people play hostages taken by terrorists, said police headquarters spokeswoman Ivana Nguyenova.
According to Nguyenova, the simulated terrorist attack started in early morning hours on Tuesday. Under the scenario, a group of 40 masked gunmen attacked the building of Congress Center during a musical performance and took the audience hostage. The gunmen demanded their fellows be released from prison, otherwise they refuse to negotiate with the police.
Czech rapid reaction unit launched a raid with the aim to set the hostages free around 10:00 in the morning, and helicopters circled around the building. The Congress Centre and its nearby surroundings were closed roughly until 13:00.
Czech Police President Tomas Tuhy said the preparation of the training lasted for half a year, adding that generally the police wanted to simulate a real situation with the exercise. This was an exceptional exercise, it is the biggest with its size.
He said the exercise will result in proposals for the police and an integrated rescue system for the needs of modernisation. The police will assess the exercise very thoroughly so that they can be prepared for the dangerous threats that the Czech Republic may expect.
Czech Interior Minister Jan Hamacek who watched the action said such exercises were vital, noting there is a real risk of attack on soft targets such as a musical performance. Czech government is trying to respond to such threats.
"We have a concept of protection of soft targets, but along with a conceptual work, there is a need of testing the use of the units in practice," Hamacek was quoted as saying.
The Emergency Service representatives said about 40 healthcare professionals participated in the exercise together with dozens of firefighters.