A 16-year-old individual was apprehended in relation to a bomb hoax near Paris, as confirmed by officials on Friday. This arrest comes amidst a series of false bomb threats that have caused disruptions at airports, schools, and prominent landmarks within the country.
These recent spates of fabricated threats have occurred at a time when France is on high alert following the conflict between Hamas and Israel, along with the tragic killing of a teacher in Arras last week.
The teenager was taken into custody on Thursday in Saint-Ouen-l’Aumône, a town located northwest of Paris, due to an emailed bomb threat targeted at his school. Consequently, approximately 1,200 people, including around a thousand students, were promptly evacuated from Jean Perrin high school.
Upon thorough examination of the premises, no explosives were discovered, and the exact motive behind the teenager’s actions remains unclear.
Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin revealed that the French authorities have detained 18 individuals for issuing false bomb threats on Wednesday and Thursday.
Multiple major airports in France, excluding those in Paris, were specifically targeted, resulting in evacuations, extensive delays, and numerous cancellations of scheduled flights.
On Friday, 14 regional airports reported a fresh wave of threats. Bordeaux and Beziers, located in the southern region, were evacuated, while other airports like Lille in the northeast and Nantes in the west were able to determine that there was no danger without needing to remove passengers.
Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti announced on Friday that 22 investigations have been initiated to address these false alarms.
Dupond-Moretti emphasized the importance of holding those responsible accountable, stating, “There will undoubtedly be convictions. We cannot allow this to happen.” He further expressed his commitment to taking strict measures against “irresponsible pranksters” and reminded the public that it is the parents who will bear the financial consequences.
Individuals found guilty of such offenses risk facing up to two years of imprisonment and a fine of 30,000 euros ($31,700).
Paris prosecutor Laure Beccuau cautioned that punishments could be even more severe, elaborating that bomb threats will now be regarded as a form of premeditated “psychological violence.”
In an interview with the French newspaper Le Parisien, Beccuau highlighted that this offense is punishable by up to three years of imprisonment and a fine of 45,000 euros.