Coming up

Don't miss




Concerns grow as hobby drone use increases

Read more


Buffalo residents share stunning images of the snowstorm

Read more


Senegalese photographer's flashbacks to Africans throughout history

Read more


Hollande photographed with Julie Gayet on Elysée Palace balcony

Read more


Is Beirut still haunted by ghosts of the civil war?

Read more


Band Aid 30 - Hit or Miss? Bob Geldof in Hot Water over Ebola Single

Read more


Deal or No Deal with Iran? Home Stretch to Reach Historic Agreement

Read more


Football scandals: The ugly side of the beautiful game

Read more

#THE 51%

Ending violence against women: The dangers of trial by Twitter

Read more


Eiffel Tower bomb scare was 'false alarm'

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-09-15

Around 2,000 people were evacuated from the Eiffel Tower and the surrounding Champ de Mars park on Tuesday evening following a bomb alert that turned out to be a false alarm, Paris police headquarters said.

AP - The Eiffel Tower and its immediate surroundings were evacuated Tuesday evening after an anonymous caller phoned in a bomb threat, but explosives experts scoured France’s most-visited monument and found nothing suspicious, Paris police headquarters said.

Parts of a second tourist hub -- the Saint-Michel subway station near Notre Dame Cathedral -- were briefly evacuated following a similar threat, police said. The station was the target of a terrorist attack in 1995 that killed eight and injured scores of people.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the threats. But they came after the head of France’s counterespionage agency was quoted this weekend as saying that the risk of a terrorist attack on French soil has never been higher.

Bernard Squarcini told Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that France’s history as a colonial master in North Africa, its military presence in Afghanistan and its move to ban burqa-style Muslim veils in public all make the country a prime target for certain radical Islamist groups.

Earlier Tuesday, the ban on face-covering Islamic veils passed its final hurdle in parliament, but there was no indication the threats against tourist sites had any link to the measure.

The proposal has drawn the indignation of the No. 2 of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahri, who said the drive to ban the veil amounted to discrimination against Muslim women. France says its move will uphold women’s dignity.

Bomb scares are relatively frequent in Paris, but a threat against such an iconic monument caused more panic than usual.

Following the anonymous threat from a public telephone in Paris, officials evacuated about 2,000 people, and police combed through the 324-meter (1,063-foot) tower, the Paris police spokesman said, speaking on condition his name not be used, in keeping with department policy.

Meanwhile, police blocked off the area under the tower and turned tourists away. Visitors were left milling about nearby, as the tower continued to sparkle and shimmer in its periodic after-dark light show.

Pedro Ferraz, a 24-year-old Brazilian student on a two-week European tour, had planned to go up the tower with his girlfriend on his first night in Paris.

“We were really shocked when we got here, we had no idea about this bomb threat,” Ferraz said. “It’s really annoying because we planned a lot of our Paris visit around the Eiffel Tower.” He was also disappointed, because his travel plans wouldn’t allow him to try again the next day.

By midnight -- about three hours after the evacuation -- the security perimeter was lifted, and people were walking and riding bikes underneath the monument once more. The tower itself, which had 6.6 million visitors last year, usually closes at 11 p.m.

The underground Saint-Michel station, where suburban RER trains converge in the heart of Paris, was also back to normal by midnight after its bomb threat. Officials had evacuated parts of the RER station, and traffic had briefly stopped on one line.

For some, the threat there was particularly chilling. Algerian Islamic insurgents bombed the Saint-Michel station on July 25, 1995, killing eight people and injuring 150. It was the first attack in a campaign of violence that terrorized Paris subway commuters. Gas cooking canisters loaded with nails, sometimes hidden in garbage cans, were used in many of the bombings.

Date created : 2010-09-14