NOGALES, Ariz. (AP) - A mock suicide bomber and a quick
succession of blasts were part of a terrorism drill designed to
test the responsiveness of health and law enforcement officials
along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Arizona Office of Homeland Security said about 1,000 people
took part in the drill Sunday morning, which started when a man
walked into the Mariposa Port of Entry compound, shouted the name
of a mythical terrorist group and set off an explosion. The man was
actually a firefighter in a protective suit.
High school drama students played injured and dead victims,
complete with makeup depicting burns and other injuries, as several
more explosions detonated. A mock toxic gas also was released.
Some 40 U.S. agencies and 20 Mexican agencies were involved in
the drill. The exercise ends Tuesday after authorities focus on
identifying victims and assessing economic consequences of an
attack.
Frank Navarrete, director of Arizona's homeland security office,
said it was too early to evaluate the drill's success.
"So far, it's an exercise," he said. "We're going to inject
some interesting things that the players don't know yet and we're
going to see how they react - and that's really the key."
Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington,
many states have held terror drills, including Florida, South
Carolina, New Jersey, Louisiana and Maryland.
In Newark, N.J., on Saturday, a drill simulated what might
happen if there was an explosion in a cargo container Port Newark.
More than 600 federal, state and local emergency workers
participated.
Navarrete said the drills allow local, state and federal
authorities to test vital communications equipment. During Sunday's
drill, he had difficulty talking to Gov. Janet Napolitano on a hand
held-radio.
After struggling to hear one another, Napolitano said, "That's
why we do these things, right?"
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On the Net:
http://www.homelandsecurity.az.gov/