Eiffel Tower evacuated after threat

Tue, Sep 28, 2010, 01:00

The Eiffel Tower has been evacuated following the second bomb threat against the monument in two weeks.

The Eiffel Tower and the surrounding Champ de Mars park were briefly evacuated because of a bomb alert, the fourth in the Paris region in as many weeks, but a search turned up nothing, police said.

The decision to evacuate came after the fire service received a call from a public telephone saying there was a suspect package at the tower, a police spokeswoman said earlier.

The city's police headquarters said an anonymous caller phoned in a bomb threat from a telephone booth near the tower.

The monument was evacuated earlier this month following a similar phone threat, and a police search turned up nothing suspicious. Yesterday, the bustling Saint Lazare train station in Paris was evacuated and searched.

National Police Chief Frederic Pechenard said last week that authorities suspect al-Qaeda's North African branch of plotting a bomb attack on a crowded target.

“We have serious indications coming from reliable intelligence saying that there’s an important risk of an attack”, he warned.

“In order to do the maximum possible damage (such an attack) would be likely to happen in a place where there are lots of people, which could be the public transit system, a department store or a gathering,” Chief Pechenard said.

He said moderate Muslim figures could also be targets. The rector of the main Paris mosque, prominent moderate Dalil Boubakeur, was recently assigned armed guards. Pechenard said that several prominent personalities have been placed under increased security.