18 people have been arrested so far in connection with bomb threats in France over the past few days. Authorities said most of them are minors.
The Palace of Versailles was evacuated at least four times this week amid bomb threats in the European country. Thousands of visitors were evacuated from the Louvre museum last Saturday. Several regional airports, including Lille, Nantes, Nice, Toulouse, were evacuated last Wednesday due to threats. 11 airports were also damaged on Thursday. French schools were also under threat. At least six high schools had to be evacuated in the Toulouse area alone last Thursday. Earlier this week, students were told to take shelter under tables after a suspicious packet was found lying in front of a school building there.
Last week, a 57-year-old teacher named Dominique Barnard was stabbed to death in the country. A former student of his is suspected to have committed the murder. The suspected killer is said to be a Russian citizen of Chechen origin. After this incident, the French government issued the highest anti-terror alert in the country. French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin said on Thursday night that 18 people had been arrested in the past 48 hours. Most of them are minors. The bomb threats were made through phone calls, e-mails, police websites or social media accounts.
French Justice Minister Eric DuPont-Moretti, referring to the perpetrators as “little jokers”, said they would be found and punished. Hoax bomb threats are punishable offenses in France. For this, up to three years in jail and a fine of up to 45 thousand euros (52 lakh 41 thousand taka) can be imposed.