2023October 2023

Hoax Bomb Threats Made in France

Sophie Ulm
Staff Writer

In the past week, France has seen eight airports and multiple schools, hospitals, and historical sites evacuated due to hoax bomb threats, according to BBC News. These sites included the Louvre Museum, Versailles Palace, and 15 regional airports. So far police have launched 22 investigations and made several arrests, but France remains in a state of fear and unrest.

According to CNN, the threats are widespread across the nation. There were threats made to sites near Paris, as well as airports in Lille, Nantes, Strasbourg, and Lyon, among other places. A suspicious item was found at the Palace of Versailles on October 17, but as of now none of the threats have resulted in an actual bombing.  Most of the threats have been made by phone or email, through a website that sends messages directly to police officers’ phones, according to BBC News.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin told The Associated Press on October 19 that 18 people had been arrested in relation to the threats, but that a majority of them were minors. Under French law, false bomb threats are punishable by up to 3 years in prison, as well as fines up to 45,000 euros (approximately $47,000). The minister said that the minors, will also have their names given to the National Education system. 

Darmanin told The Associated Press that the series of threats “disorganizes our security services and obviously stops society from functioning.” One of the most prevalent concerns with the uptake in threats is that it will reduce sensitivity and awareness when a legitimate threat occurs.

The French Minister of Transport, Clement Beaune, announced that air and rail security will see an increase in the coming days, reported Reuters. Alongside additional police patrols, security personnel at Paris airports will see a 40 percent increase, while national railway systems will see an increase of 20 percent in security personnel.

The attacks come at a time of already heightened security for France. One of the schools that was forced to evacuate due to a bomb threat was also the site of a fatal stabbing on October 13, reported Reuters. The Lycee Gambetta high school in Arras, a city in northern France, was the site of an attack by a 20-year old former student, who killed teacher Dominique Bernard and wounded three others. 

The attack resulted in France raising its terrorist threat alert to the highest level, reports The New York Times. The alert was already at the highest level before the bomb threats occurred, with the new threats resulting in an even higher level of caution for the government and civilians, and a continuously increasing military presence. 

Though airports and historical sites have reopened, there is still a great level of uncertainty and fear throughout France. “For the moment, we have no miracle solution,” Nicolas Paulisson, general delegate for the Union of French Airports, told The Associated Press. As threats continue to be made, they must be taken seriously, but officials also stress that they cannot be allowed to impact daily functions.

Image courtesy of Wikinews

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