Passengers at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos got more than they bargained for yesterday as the Nigerian Air Force conducted a simulation exercise on counter-terrorism.
No fewer than three persons sustained injuries during the exercise. Among those affected was an old woman on a wheel-chair, travelling outside the country.
Just as the mock terrorists stormed the airport and started shooting sporadically, she fell from her wheelchair out of shock and allegedly broke her teeth.
Another traveller, a young woman, flung her baby away in the pandemonium that ensued, before diving for cover. She later reunited with her baby when she was told that it was just a mock exercise and that the bullets being expended were blank.
Also, a male airport staff in his late 50’s collapsed on the sound of sporadic gunshots from the mock terrorists, medical staff from the Nigerian Air Force, Army and Lagos State Government tried frantically to keep him in stable condition.
All the wounded persons were attended to by medical staff of the Nigerian Air Force hospital and members of the Lagos State Ambulance Services.
The passengers said they were not informed of the exercise and thought it was a real situation and that terrorists had taken over the airport.
Airport officials told journalists that passengers were duly informed as an announcement were continuously being made to inform passengers of the exercise.
The Nigerian Air Force said,with the exercise, its troops are battle ready to tackle eventualities arising from terrorists attack on the Nigerian airports.
The Air Force said the assurance became necessary following attacks in airports around the world by suspected terrorists loyal to the group Islamic State for Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Speaking during the conduct of a counter terrorist exercise at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadiq Abubakar said the exercise was to ensure that the airports are safe and that incase of attacks by terrorists the force would be able to contain them.
The exercise codenamed “EXERCISE THUNDER BOLT” was to ascertain the force’s readiness to respond to occurrence of terrorist attack in any of the nation’s airports.
He said the idea was to see that the NAF personnel who have been trained to protect our airports can ensure that the airport are safe in event of an attack by terrorists.