French police have found five dynamite sticks in Paris's Printemps Haussmann department store, but say there were no detonators attached. An unknown Afghan group has claimed responsibility; police believe the devices were a warning.
French police on Tuesday discovered five dynamite sticks in Paris’s Printemps department store, one of the oldest and most famous stores in Paris.
France’s Interior Ministry said the explosives did not have detonators that would have permitted them to explode.
The dymanite sticks were found in a 3rd floor toilet in a building housing the men’s department, on Boulevard Haussman in the heart of Paris’s shopping district. The entire store, packed with Christmas shoppers, was immediately evacuated.
FRANCE 24 special correspondent Philomé Robert said there were policemen all over the store, but the evacuation was calm. “There is no air of panic,” he reported.
The discovery of the explosives came after the French news agency Agence France Presse (AFP) received a letter saying that “several bombs” had been placed “in the men’s store at Printemps Haussman,” one of them “on the third floor in the toilets behind the cistern.”
The letter was signed by The Afghan Revolutionary Front, a previously-unknown organization, and called for the French withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan “before February 2009.” It warned, “I assure you this is no joke, so tell the competent authorities right away or you will have blood on your hands.”
During an address before the deputies of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, French President Nicolas Sarkozy responded immediately to the news, calling for “vigilance” and “firmness” in the face of terrorism.
Upon arriving at Printemps-Haussmann, Interior Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie warned that the claim of responsibility should be treated with caution. “The end of the year is particularly symbolic. We have to be suspicious of indications in the letter that might lead investigators up the wrong alley,” she said.
Date created : 2008-12-16