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(Postmedia Network)

A “dangerous” game being played by high schoolers armed with mock weapons that sometimes look all too real is a growing concern for cops.

Halton Regional Police are warning youth about the dangers of playing “the assassin game” — a live-action game involving participants stalking and pretending to kill one another that seems to be picking up steam in the area.

“Over the past few days police have received several calls from the public regarding suspicious activity and youths in possession of firearms,” Staff-Sgt. Brad Murray said in a statement issued late Friday. “Further investigation has revealed that the alleged firearms were in fact water guns used by local youths engaged (in) ‘the assassins game.’”

The game, which sees players eliminating each other at any time day or night in an effort to become the lone survivor, typically involves brightly coloured Nerf or squirt guns.

However, Murray said several of the water guns police have seen “closely resembled the appearance of a real firearm.”

“These incidents have caused public distress and elevated police response,” he said.

A month ago, residents of an Oakville neighbourhood became alarmed after seeing an SUV with several ski mask-wearing occupants armed with what turned out to be squirt guns. One occupant actually stood up through the sunroof as the vehicle drove along the street.

The group in the SUV were targeting students walking home from a local high school.

Officers responded to the area and tracked down the SUV only to learn the ski mask-clad occupants were teen girls armed with water guns who claimed to be playing the assassins game.

The girls were released without charges.

But police warned at the time that using real-looking weapons in such scenarios wastes police resources and puts teens at risk of being shot by officers.

The assassin game was first popularized on college campuses in the U.S. around 2008. Several universities south of the border have either banned the game or vowed students caught participating in it would face discipline.

“The Halton Regional Police Service would like to discourage youth from participating in this dangerous game,” Murray said.

Source: Toronto Sun