French airports hit by fake bomb threats for third consecutive day

French authorities grapple with surge of false alarms targeting landmarks such as Palace of Versailles and even a nuclear research centre

French authorities have evacuated Bordeaux Airport, the latest in a series of bomb threats. AFP
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A series of fake bomb threats have been reported in France, the third consecutive day of evacuations caused by false warnings that have sparked calls for action against the senders.

Several regional airports, schools, landmarks and even a nuclear research institute have been involved.

French authorities have been grappling with the surge of false alarms, which has led to considerable strain on their security services and caused widespread distress and disruption of daily life.

A 16-year-old was arrested over a bomb hoax outside Paris, over a bomb threat emailed to his school, police sources said.

Regional airports such as Bordeaux, Nantes, Lille, and Montpellier have been hit hard by the threats, which have caused substantial delays.

Landmarks such as the Palace of Versailles and a nuclear research facility in Grenoble have also been targeted.

Despite a multitude of threats, no explosives have been discovered at any of the locations.

Paris airport operator ADP confirmed that major Parisian airports, including Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Orly, were not affected by the threats.

French Transport Minister Clement Beaune said that false threats were made against 17 airports on Wednesday, causing the evacuation of 15 airports, cancellation of 130 flights and many delays.

He emphasised the seriousness of these actions, categorising the false alerts as crimes, not merely bad jokes.

Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin voiced concern over the barrage of hoaxes, stressing that they posed substantial risks.

False threats “disorganise our security services and obviously stop society from functioning and pose an enormous risk in case of a [real] problem”, he said.

Throughout this chaotic period, 18 individuals, primarily minors, have been detained and accused of being associated with the hoaxes.

A 16-year-old was apprehended following a bomb threat directed at a school, resulting in the evacuation of about 1,200 people.

Mr Darmanin said substantial resources were being wasted in tracing and identifying those responsible for the threats.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti said those behind the false alarms, referred to as “little jokers,” would face stringent legal action, emphasising the severity and the potential consequences of their actions.

Anyone found guilty of carrying out such threats can face up to three years in prison and fines up to €45,000 in France.

Parents of minor offenders could be held financially accountable for the resulting damages.

Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau specified that bomb threats would be treated as a form of premeditated “psychological violence”, warranting severe legal penalties.

Updated: October 20, 2023, 3:01 PM