France facing bomb threat epidemic as schools hit by staggering 299 hoaxes
France has been gripped by a wave of false bomb threats in recent days, resulting in the evacuation of prominent landmarks, airports, and schools across the country.
These incidents have not only disrupted public life but also raised concerns about the security situation in the nation.
The iconic Château de Versailles, in particular, has faced repeated evacuations due to bomb threats, occurring four times in just six days.
In response to these false bomb threats, French authorities have been quick to act as Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced on BFM TV on October 19, 2023, that 18 individuals had been arrested in the past 48 hours in connection with these threats.
Notably, many of these individuals allegedly making the threats are minors. They are currently being brought before the courts after the arrests.
READ MORE: Eight major French airports evacuated and flights grounded after ‘bomb threats’
Minister Darmanin stressed the commitment of the French government to bring those responsible to justice, ssaying: “If there’s one message I want to get across, it’s that we’re finding everyone.”
Darmanin also spoke about the nature of these threats, suggesting that they might be an “organised threat, financed and trained from outside,” similar to the tragic events at the Bataclan. However, he reassured the public that such threats were closely monitored by international intelligence agencies.
While he noted that there is currently “no significant [terrorist] threat” in France, he expressed concern about individuals becoming radicalised, often through online means. Such individuals may respond individually to calls from extremist organisations and take harmful actions.
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Furthermore, Darmanin pointed to the recent attacks by Hamas in Israel as an additional factor that heightens the possibility of a terrorist threat in Europe. This highlights the need for continued vigilance and security measures.
Gabriel Attal, the Minister for Education, revealed that there have been a concerning number of false bomb threats against schools. These incidents have been particularly distressing in the current climate. He reported a total of “299 false alarms against schools” since the start of the school year, with “75 today alone”.
In an alarming development, there have been approximately ten arrests of school pupils, some as young as 11 to 15 years old. The first hearings for these cases are scheduled in the coming days.
Minister Attal reaffirmed the government’s resolute stance on this issue, stating: “This has to be a lesson to everyone.” The false threats against educational institutions not only disrupt the educational process but also place undue stress on students, parents, and educators.
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