Armed police stormed a popular shopping centre on Sunday night (12 November) as part of a training exercise for a potential terrorist attack.

Dramatic photos showed officers carrying guns and shields flooding the Bullring and Grand Central in Birmingham as shoppers played by actors dived for cover.

Paramedics were also seen treating 'casualties' as bodies lay strewn on the floor outside shop entrances.

Another image shows a man holding his hands above his head as dozens of armed response officers arrive.

West Midlands Police said the drill was a pre-planned exercise to test the response of emergency workers, and was not in response to any specific threat or intelligence.

They were also testing the shopping centre's security measures having been invited by its owner, Hammerson, to stage the training exercise.

The drill began on Sunday night and lasted into the early hours of Monday.

Assistant chief constable Gareth Cann said: "This is the latest in a series of exercises that we have carried out to test our ability to deal with large scale incidents.

"Recent national and international events highlight the importance of public organisations testing their emergency response procedures to reassure the safety of the communities we serve.

"The UK threat level remains at severe which means that an attack is highly likely, although there is no specific threat to our region it is imperative that we are ready to deal with such an attack if required.

"I would like to thank everyone who took part in the exercise, particularly the Bullring and Grand Central."

The drill comes as counter terrorism officials will be aware of the potential of a terrorist attack timed to coincide with the busy Christmas period.

Last year saw 12 people killed and more than 50 injured when a truck was deliberately driven into a Christmas market in Berlin by an Islamic terrorist.

Graham Williams, Hammerson's portfolio security manager, said: "As the owner and manager of a number of leading retail destinations, we have robust security procedures in place, which are constantly reviewed.

"We already have a close working relationship with West Midlands Police and we welcome the opportunity to work together on major training exercises such as this, to test and measure our responses to major incidents alongside other emergency service partners."

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