London: Police have to be armed with more powerful weapons to battle a Mumbai-inspired terror strike in Britain, said a senior Scotland Yard official. "It`s going to mean heavy ballistic weapons, heavier ballistic ammunition," he added.
Scotland Yard Assistant Commissioner John Yates said officials would require a major boost to their firepower to fight a terror attack where the objective is to kill people in a matter of minutes, Daily Mail reported Thursday.
Ten heavily armed terrorists from Pakistan had sneaked into Mumbai from sea and unleashed a carnage that left 166 people dead in November 2008. One of the attackers, Ajmal Amir Kasab, was arrested while the rest were killed by commandos who fought room-to-room battles in hotels where they were holed up.
Speaking at an anti-terror conference in central London Wednesday, Yates addressed the possibility of a Mumbai-inspired attack.
"Most deaths in these type of cases occur in the first hour, the first 30-40 minutes. What does that mean to the style of policing? The risk to the unarmed bobby in the street does mean upping to a higher ballistic weaponry and ammunition. It`s going to mean heavy ballistic weapons, heavier ballistic ammunition," Yates was quoted as saying.
"Some of my colleagues from across the country see that as a fundamental change, yet we will be the first people there, the first in the line of fire. There has to be an understanding that in the first hour that there will be a lot of challenges, a lot of dead people."
Most of the hostages in the Mumbai attacks died within 30 minutes of capture.
Nearly 2,800 officials are authorised to use firearms, including the Specialist Firearms Command (CO19), Heckler and Koch G36 assault rifle.
The media report said that Yates` comments reflect concerns that the country may not be able to tackle a similar attack and suggest moves toward the greater use of heavy ballistic weapons, including rapid-fire assault rifles and C9 Minimi machine guns as well as more powerful bullets.
"If two terrorists go on the rampage with machine guns, we have got a massive problem. The question is whether there should be a policing or military response. There needs to be a debate and John Yates is right to put the issue in the public arena," a security source said.