Two Hong Kong police officers were among those who responded to the terror attack in New Zealand, which left 50 dead earlier this month.
In a statement, New Zealand police confirmed that officers from Hong Kong gave a helping hand to their Kiwi colleagues, providing advanced medical care to the victims of one of the country’s worst tragedies.
A 28-year-old self-proclaimed white supremacist is on trial for murder, after allegedly opening fire in a Christchurch mosque on March 15. At the time, the Hong Kong officers were participating in an inter-agency firearms training course led by the local police and defence forces.
New Zealand police requested help from the pair, who had in-depth training in dealing with medical emergencies.
In a rare move, and given the gravity of the situation, the foreign officers were also provided with firearms.
“They carried firearms given it was still believed armed offenders were at large at the time,” a spokesperson for New Zealand Police told HKFP. “These staff rendered immediate first aid to a number of victims in the most difficult of circumstances.”
Australian officers were also among the first responders.
New Zealand authorities said that the overseas officers remained under local police supervision at all times and that no special powers were conferred.
In response to HKFP’s enquiries, Hong Kong Police confirmed that two of their officers were involved in the rare instance of cooperation, but did not elaborate on the details of the operation.
However, a senior source familiar with the matter – who was granted anonymity as they did not have approval to speak to the media – indicated that the two officers were attached to the Special Duties Unit (SDU). The unit is an elite low-profile contingent of 120 assault officers trained to deal with high-risk operations such as terror attacks or hostage rescues. Advanced first aid is a core component of their training.
The SDU – also known as Flying Tigers – were established in 1974 and have recorded 162 missions and 335 dive searches so far. They remain prominent in popular culture and have featured in a number of action movies.
The British-influenced paramilitary unit hold regular drills with police and defence forces from Commonwealth nations including New Zealand.
However, it remains very rare for Hong Kong officers to take part in operations outside of their jurisdiction.
New Zealand’s Consulate General in Hong Kong told HKFP that the Hong Kong officers played a “valuable role” in the operation and thanked the international community for its support.
“The kind assistance of our friends in the international community is greatly appreciated at this deeply sad and distressing time,” a spokesperson said.