Marianas Variety

Last updateThu, 19 Sep 2019 12am

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    Wednesday, September 18, 2019-8:54:48P.M.

     

     

     

     

     

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Hostage-takers, shooters, bus explosion

A POWERFUL explosion rocked Garapan at noon yesterday and was felt as far away as Koblerville.

But not to worry. It was just part of the Konfitma exercises that involved full-scale field training exercises that started yesterday morning.

At noon, “active shooters/hostage-takers” set off a bomb in a bus full of tourists at the south end of the Garapan Fishing Base.

At least seven individuals escaped from the bus as fire consumed it and several cars.

Before the area was “secured,” some tourists who were passing took photos or videos of the burning bus and cars.

Police diverted traffic from the area and waited for firefighters and other emergency responders.

A team from the DPS Special Enforcement and Action Section and the explosives division soon arrived, followed by the command post vehicle from the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.


Seven individuals pretend to be dead or seriously injured following a powerful explosion that destroyed a tourist bus and other vehicles at the Garapan Fishing Base yesterday afternoon as part of this year’s Konfitma exercises. Photo by Andrew O. De GuzmanSeven individuals pretend to be dead or seriously injured following a powerful explosion that destroyed a tourist bus and other vehicles at the Garapan Fishing Base yesterday afternoon as part of this year’s Konfitma exercises. Photo by Andrew O. De Guzman

While emergency responders were checking on the “victims,” an “active shooter” fired at the authorities, while taking a “hostage,” a mannequin from one of the damaged vehicles.

When police officers drew their weapon, the “hostage-taker” surrendered and was taken into custody.

Prior to the explosion, a car passed by with two “active shooters” who fired at the Horiguchi Building which houses several federal agencies as well as the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands. It was immediately secured by initiating a lock-down of the building.

The two shooters then boarded the bus full a tourists, held them hostage and later triggered an explosive device in the bus.

Hazmat personnel from local and federal agencies as well as from the U.S. National Guard’s 93rd and 94th Civil Support Teams later conducted an all-hazard examination of the burnt bus and cars in Garapan.

Special Assistant for Homeland Security and Emergency Management Marvin Seman told reporters that the full-scale exercises will conclude today.

He said this year’s Konfitma exercises included Tinian and Rota.

“We stepped it up this year,” Seman said, referring to the planning team that included the U.S. Army Pacific Weapons of Mass Destruction-Civil Support Team/CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package Training and Readiness Division. CBRNE stands for chemical biological radiological nuclear explosive.

Seman said this year’s Konfitma exercises are the “biggest” as they involved about 400 participants, local and federal emergency responders.

At 6:40 a.m. yesterday, Seman said the 36-hour all-CBRNE situational training exercise began with a male “active shooter” at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.

The shooter was overpowered by DPS and CPA police. He was not injured, and was taken into custody.

At 8:30 a.m., a bomb threat was received by Garapan Elementary School and there was an explosion at Saipan Southern High School.

The readiness of schools and the hospital was tested, Seman said.

At 9:15 a.m., there was a report about an “active shooter” at the Commonwealth Health Center who was demanding “money and drugs” and was holding a pharmacist and cashier hostage.

From the pharmacy, the “active shooter” was chased and “wounded” in the parking area. Authorities recovered his handgun.

While there was an “active shooter” at CHC, there was also “suspicious activities” involving “men with handguns” in the As Gonno area where a laboratory suspected of making hazardous weapons was discovered. The National Guard’s 93rd and 94th Civil Support Teams were also notified.

It was a “scenario” on Tinian that triggered the succeeding incidents on Saipan, Seman said.

At press time last night, local and federal agencies were engaging “active shooters” at the former La Fiesta Mall.

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