-- Police in the U.K. came under fire after a fake suicide bomber shouted "God is great" in Arabic during a terror drill in the town of Manchester, with many including a police chief describing it as offensive and unacceptable.
“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 with Islam,” Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said in a statement.
The three-day drill involving 800 volunteers started overnight in the U.K.’s largest shopping mall, Trafford Centre, to test existing emergency response and better prepare Greater Manchester Police, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and North West Ambulance Service.
During the drill, a fake suicide bomber shouted “Allahu Akbar” -- which prompted widespread criticism on social media and a quick apology by Manchester Police.
“The scenario for this exercise is based on a suicide attack by an extremist Daesh-style organisation and the scenario writers have centered the circumstances around previous similar attacks of this nature,” Shewan said, referring to the group also known as ISIS.
“We recognize and apologize for the offence that this has caused," Shewan added.
Over the following two days, the exercise will continue in locations in the North West, including Redbank Community Home, in Newton-le-Willows, Merseyside, on Wednesday, officials said.
“Our priority is to stop terrorists from planning and orchestrating attacks and with exercises like this," Assistant Chief Constable Rebekah Sutcliffe said in a statement, adding: "this is not linked to any specific terror threat or attack, but is an opportunity for us to make sure we are in the best position possible, should a terrorist attack happen."