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International anti-terrorism exercise ATHOS 2016 was held in Estonia

17. August 2016 - 12:10
Photo: Annika Haas

An international special units exercise ATHOS 2016 brought members of special units from 15 countries to Tallinn, Estonia to train co-operation against a terrorist attack.

According to Estonian Minister of the Interior Hanno Pevkur, ATHOS (Allied Terrorism Hindering Operation Simulation) is the largest special units’ anti-terrorist training in Europe this year. „We have painfully experienced that the security situation in Europe has changed. This was the second large international special units’ exercise we have organized in Estonia in order to be prepared for the threats. Altogether, 20 special units and almost 400 people took part in the training,” Pevkur said. Special units from 15 countries participated, including Austria, Germany, France, Great Britain, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Slovenia, Latvia, Lithuania and USA.

Most of the exercise took place at the seaside in the centre of Tallinn. This is the first time the units have carried out such a large-scale training in a city. „Recent terrorist attacks in Europe have taken place in the cities and the work of operative units has been complicated further by the fact that they often occurred in several different locations. This is why Estonian exercise was a very valued possibility to practise co-operation by our foreign partners,” said Elmar Vaher, the head of Estonian Police and Border Guard Board.

The scenario of the exercise included evacuating the victims and containing armed terrorists; emergency services and hospitals were also involved in the training. Sections of the exercise took place outside Tallinn in order to practise commanding the units simultaneously in several locations.

According to Eerik Heldna, the Deputy Director of Estonian Internal Security Service, the premise for successfully pre-empting terrorist attacks is being informed. „In order to counter-act to a terrorist threat, it is vital to have as thorough knowledge as possible about the treats,“ Heldna said. „In Estonia, pre-empting terrorism is the task of the Internal Security Service, but it is the good work of special units that forms this work into a result.“

The exercise was held under ATLAS network, which was founded in 2001 to connect European special units and enhance counter-terrorism fight. This year’s exercise was a follow-up to last year’s exercise held in Estonia.

Some photos of ATHOS 2016 exercise:

Video summary of last year’s training:

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