British police apologized Tuesday for staging a terrorist attack training exercise and having a fake suicide bomber yell “Allahu Akbar” before setting off an explosion.
Greater Manchester Police (GMP), along with other agencies, staged a 24-hour counter terrorism training exercise at Trafford Centre shopping mall just outside of Manchester.
“It is a necessity for agencies including the police to train and prepare using exercises such as this, so that we would be in the best possible position to respond in the event that the unthinkable happened and an attack took place,” Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said in a statement.
READ MORE: UK police stage hyper-realistic mock suicide bombing as part of anti-terror drill
The simulated attack began just before midnight when a suicide bomber yelled “Allahu Akbar” at the entrance of the mall before setting off an explosion.
The Arabic phrase means “God is Great.”
Volunteers – equipped with ear defenders and safety glasses – dropped to the floor, some of them with bloody mock injuries.
Emergency teams take part in a simulated terror attack at the Trafford Centre on May 10, 2016 in Manchester, England. Sean Hansford/Getty Images
Emergency teams take part in a simulated terror attack at the Trafford Centre on May 10, 2016 in Manchester, England.
Sean Hansford/Getty Images
According to the Independent, community groups and activists were outraged by the use of “stereotypes” for the exercise and called the use of the phrase offensive.
“This sort of thing panders to stereotypes and further divides us,” a spokesperson for the Community Safety Forum told the British newspaper. ““It will increase anti-Muslim hate crime.”
Police said the mock operation was based on the style of attacks that had recently been used by the Islamic State group
“The Scenario of this exercise is based on a suicide attack by an extremist Daesh (ISIS) style organization and the scenario writers have centred the circumstances around previous similar attacks of this nature, mirroring details of the past to make the situation as real life as possible for all those involved,” Shewan said in a statement.
“However, on reflection we acknowledge that it was unacceptable to use this religious phrase immediately before the mock suicide bombing, which so vocally linked this exercise to Islam. We recognize and apologize for the offence that this has caused.”
–with files from The Associated Press