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Armed Police Raise Concerns

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Armed Police Raise Concerns

Color Run.

Photo: The Color Run Iceland/Facebook.

Reykjavík’s third annual Color Run—an untimed, 5K family fun run for charity—was supervised this year by armed members of Iceland’s Special Forces unit, Vísir reports. According to police, these measures were taken in response to recent terrorist attacks in London and elsewhere throughout Europe. However, the decision to station armed police at the event was not announced in advance, and so was something of a shock to many attendees, as it is very uncommon for Icelandic police officers to carry firearms in everyday situations.

Referring to a recently completed, but confidential, terrorism risk assessment report related to events taking place in Reykjavík and the capital area this summer, Superintendent Ásgeir Þór Ásgeirsson said that police have been considering increased security measures for the city, particularly during mass public events.

Many streets were closed while the festival was taking place today and, among other things, large moving trucks were used to close off streets so that other vehicles couldn’t get by. “We’ve been thinking about possible ways to make such gatherings safer and we resorted to a few such measures today in order to make bystanders safer within closed-off areas,” Ásgeir explained. Police have also confirmed that armed members of the Special Forces unit are expected to be present at future public events, such as festivities taking place on June 17, Iceland’s National Day.

The new security measures are, nevertheless, causing concern in some quarters. RÚV reports that Katrín Jakobsdóttir, chairperson of the Left-Green Movement, plans to raise questions about them at a meeting of the National Security Council on Monday.

“I think that like me, most Icelanders found it rather unsettling,” she said in an interview on Sunday. “Particularly in light of the fact that there were no announcements of any kind about this beforehand, nor was the public informed that the threat level had been increased. I think it’s important in such situations that the government opts for transparency when these decisions are made, so that people have more information.”

“We know well from many places abroad that information is given out when there are reasons behind such decisions, and I think that it’s important for ordinary people to know more, rather than less.”

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