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Bomb scare closes Arc de Triomphe roundabout

The roundabout surrounding the Arc de Triomphe, one of the busiest and most famous in Paris, was evacuated on Monday after a bomb scare.

Bomb scare closes Arc de Triomphe roundabout
File photo of French soldiers patrolling the area around the Arc de Triomphe in February. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The roundabout at Place de l'Etoile was closed after police received an anonymous call at 2pm stating there was a suspect parcel in the middle of the Arc de Triomphe.

"The whole area is being evacuated," a source told AFP. "We received an alert around 2.00 p.m. (1200 GMT) and bomb disposal experts are in place already but we still don't know if this was a false alarm or not," the source had said at the time.

The evacuation was expected to cause chaos for commuters as the traffic roundabout is hugely busy and both suburban and subway trains pass underneath it.

However, though the Metro and RER train services that run beneath the famous spot had not been evacuated, bus services in the area were disrupted.

Two hours later, after police had checked the area, the all clear was given and traffic returned to the roundabout.

Bomb scares are fairly regular occurrences at Paris's famous tourist landmarks. In March the Eiffel Tower had to be evacuated after an anonymous caller claimed there was a bomb at the sight.

France has stepped up national security in the wake of its military intervention in Mali, which provoked various unspecified threats of revenge from Islamist extremist groups.

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Lyon bomb suspect ‘had pledged allegiance to Islamic State’

An Algerian suspected of setting off a package bomb in southeast France last week has told investigators that he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State jihadist group, a judicial source said on Thursday.

Lyon bomb suspect 'had pledged allegiance to Islamic State'
Emergency services personal treat an injured woman after the bomb exploded in Lyon on Monday. Photo: Phillippe Desmazes/AFP
The 24-year-old man, identified as Mohamed Hichem M., was arrested on Monday after an extensive manhunt since Friday, when 13 people were wounded by the explosion on a busy pedestrian street in Lyon.
 
Sources close to the case said that after initially refusing to talk, the suspect admitted Wednesday to planting the bomb, packed with screws and ball bearings and a relatively small amount of acetone peroxide, or APEX.
   
It was the same volatile compound used in the deadly Paris terror attacks of November 13, 2015 and other incidents since which have claimed the lives of more than 250 people.
   
The Islamic State group has been behind several of the attacks, although police had said earlier that no one had claimed the Lyon blast.
   
The suspect's brother, who was also arrested and questioned by anti-terror investigators in Paris, and his parents were released from custody on Thursday “in the absence, at this stage, of anything incriminating them,” the Paris prosecutors' office said.
   
A search of the man's home had already turned up “elements likely to be used for making APEX,” one source told AFP, and searches of his computers pointed to internet searches related to jihadism and bomb-building.
   
Thirteen people were wounded in the blast — eight women, four men and a 10-year-old girl.
 
The package was placed in front of a bakery near the corner of two crowded pedestrian streets in the historic heart of Lyon at around 17:30 pm last Friday.
   
Video surveillance cameras led police to identify the man after he fled the scene on a bicycle.
   
He was arrested while getting off a bus in a suburb just south of the city.
 
Lyon Mayor Gerard Collomb said this week that the suspect had not been known to the police.
 
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