• France's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Who is sending terror threats to Paris's high schools?
Photo: Twitter/HPouxx

Who is sending terror threats to Paris's high schools?

The Local/AFP · 29 Jan 2016, 11:32

Published: 29 Jan 2016 11:32 GMT+01:00

The schools, most of them public and located in up-market districts of the French capital, were evacuated after the hoax calls were made on Tuesday and Thursday. 
 
A number of schools in Britain and Italy were also threatened, and on Friday two states in Australia were affected too. Schools in Sweden have also been hit by fake terror attack threats.
 
In each instance the threats have been taken seriously, with schools evacuated, searches carried out and in certain cases bomb squads called in. 
 
Whoever it is who is making the bomb threats remains a mystery, but here is what we know so far. 
 
Which French schools have been targeted?
 
Tuesday saw evacuations at the lycées Montaigne, Henry IV, Fenelon, Charlemagne, Louis-Le-Grand and Condorcet in Paris.
 
On Thursday, it was Charlemagne, Condorcet, Louis-Le-Grand - all for the second time - as well as Hélène Boucher, Victor Hugo, and Passy Saint-Honoré. These schools remain guarded by security on Friday.
 
Paris high schools evacuated over new terror threats
Paris high schools have been evacuated twice this week. Photo: Twitter/HPouxx
 
How are the calls coming through?
 
On Tuesday, the threats have been via anonymous calls claiming that bombs had been hidden in the buildings, according to police and the Paris school authority.
 
Then on Thursday the caller reportedly said that they would arrive at the schools armed with "bombs and Kalashnikovs to ensure the maximum amount of victims.".
 
The calls are said to have been "virtually identical", with a police source telling Metro newspaper that the voice is "metallic sounding as if played via a tape recorder"
 
According to BFM TV's information, the calls are "without doubt" coming from a foreign country that is not in the Middle East. Although the channel added that the calls could have made from France but made to appear like they are coming from abroad using a subterfuge device.
 
Little is known about how the threats were made to British schools and what was said, although they are understood to have all been via phone too. 
 
In Australia, one school said a receptionist had received a "computerised" message through a phone call which said there was a "bomb in a backpack but no more specifics".
 
Have police got any leads?
 
In the UK, a 14-year-old boy has been held after he was caught on CCTV entering the phone booth from which a bomb threat was called in, but it appears to be an isolated case, reported The Guardian.
 
The threats in Europe were claimed by a Twitter account calling itself the Evacuation Squad, with a profile picture of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
 
The account featured previous messages in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
   
"We are six individuals based internationally," read the profile blurb, advertising its services to call in bomb threats.
 
Photo: Twitter/HPouxx
 
The account has since been suspended. The police have yet to give any signs as to whether the account is to be taken seriously.
 
The Sydney Morning Herald said an email it purportedly received from the group denied they were behind the Australian hoaxes.
   
"We have only targeted schools in Europe, Canada, The United States, South Africa, and Japan," Fairfax reported the email as saying, citing the user name Viktor Olyavich.
   
"We are unsure of who it is (behind the Australian attacks). It is most likely a 'copycat' incident."
 
Is it a terror threat?
 
Police in the Australian state of Victoria said that they were not treating the threats as terror related. 
 
French police are yet to go into detail. What is known, however, is that both France and Britain are already on high alert after again being threatened by the latest Islamic State group propaganda video, released on Monday showing the jihadists who attacked Paris in November.
Story continues below…
   
The Isis group's French-language magazine Dar-al-Islam called in its November edition for its followers to kill teachers in the French education system, describing them as "enemies of Allah".
 
France has since seen one prominent attack related to the education system, when a teenager armed with a machete severely injured a Jewish teacher on his way to school in Marseille. 
 
What can authorities do?
 
French terrorism expert François-Bernard Huyghe played down the idea of a real terror threat telling The Local that the calls are probably being made by "pupils who don't want to go to school".
 
Yet Huyghe says that given the state of alert in France police and education authorities have no choice but to take them seriously.
 
"After November we know that jihadists are prepared to pick any kind of target," he said. "We are becoming more and more paranoid. It's a vicious circle," Huyghe says
 
"Police have to apply the principle of precaution. Even if the alerts don't appear serious, they have to be treated as such. We can't just ignore them," he says.
 
"I don't know if there's an easy solution. Although the more we talk about them, the more chance there is of copy cat calls."
 
Huyghe does not believe the threats are coming from Isis even though they would no doubt be only too delighted at the disruption and panic caused.

The Local/AFP (news.france@thelocal.com)

Today's headlines
BREAKING
Priest killed as knifemen take hostages at French church
Photo: Google Street View

Two men armed with knives killed a priest after taking several people hostage at a French church, before being shot dead by police on Tuesday.

One dead after violent clashes in Calais migrant camp
The "Jungle" migrant camp in Calais. Photo: AFP

An Ethiopian has died after he was stabbed in the chest during clashes at the Calais migrant camp.

Nice attack: Two more suspected accomplices held
Photo: AFP

One of the arrested men was reportedly in a photo with the killer beside the truck used in the attack.

Nice security row rumbles on as minister files lawsuit
Photo: AFP

Despite the efforts of the French president the controversy over the security arrangements on the night of the Nice attack won't go away.

Air France strike to see 30 percent of flights grounded
Photo: AFP

Here's what to do if you are affected by the one-week Air France strike that begins on Wednesday.

Pokémon Go sparks chaos and concern in France
Teenagers sprint through a park in Bordeaux, not in panic, but in search of a rare Pokemon. Photo: MonsieurBright/YouTube

Videos of hundreds of people sprinting through a park would normally be cause for panic in France at the moment.

The ten places where you really need to speak French
Photo: Lily A./Flickr

There are some places and situations in France where you just have to speak French.

Isis can be a conduit for psychopaths' violent desires
A pilce of rubbish marks the spot where Nice truck attacker Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel was shot by police.

Isis did not create these attackers, they were well on their way.

Angry Marseille Muslim ends up in war of words with Isis
Photo: Facebook Henni Mohamed/AFP

"Who do you think you are, the Power Rangers?" Marseille man's foul-mouthed fighting talk provokes Isis to respond.

Thousands of travellers face seven-day Air France strike
Photo: mariordo59/Flickr

The strike is set to run from July 27th to August 2nd and as many as 130,000 passengers could be affected.

Sponsored Article
5 reasons to try dating in Paris with The Inner Circle
Culture
Thirteen free and easy ways to learn French
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
32 mistakes foreigners make when they arrive in France
National
Here are the worst scams to avoid whilst driving in France
Analysis & Opinion
Isis can simply be a conduit for the violent desires of psychopaths
Features
Six outdoor bars in Paris you simply must visit
Culture
The open-air Villette cinema has been cancelled over security fears
Culture
Henri Rousseau exhibition proves huge hit in Paris
National
Frenchman caught trying to sell Nice massacre souvenirs online
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Society
OPEN NOW: Here's why you should head to the Paris Plages
Culture
What's on in France: Still plenty to see and do in July
Lifestyle
Treasures of Versailles to go on display in Australia
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
National
How to keep cool during France's heatwave
National
Nice attack: What we know so far
National
Nice attacker: Body-building, drug-taking, violent flirt
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
National
IN IMAGES: Drawings in tribute to Nice attack victims
Society
Promenade des Anglais: The iconic heart of the French Riviera
France faces more questions after latest deadly attack
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
National
Why is France the target of choice for jihadist attacks?
National
Nice truck attack: 'Bodies went flying like bowling pins'
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Nice attack: Families of missing make pleas on Twitter
Politics
Boris Johnson cheered and booed at Bastille Day party
National
Ten reasons not to leave Paris this summer
Ten ways other expats in France drive you mad
2,766
jobs available