At least 12 airports around France and Belgium have been hit by bomb scares, authorities have confirmed.
They reportedly included explicit threats issued by phone and email as well as the discovery of suspicious packages.
According to a report by AFP, the majority of the airports that received threats have been evacuated, many of which are located near major population centres including Nice and Lyon.
As of writing, no threat has resulted in an attack, with authorities in France saying that the evacuations will help “clear up any doubts” regarding the veracity of the menaces.
Some have already been confirmed as fake, with French authorities writing online that the one relating to Lyon Bron airport was “false”.
🟢 FAUSSE ALERTE À LA BOMBE à l'aéroport d'affaires de #Bron
Le fait de communiquer une fausse info dans le but de faire croire qu'une destruction dangereuse pour les personnes va être commise est puni de 2ans d'emprisonnement et 30K€
Levée de doute effectuée par les démineurs pic.twitter.com/mvcMewJ5ht
— Préfète de région Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes et du Rhône (@prefetrhone) October 18, 2023
They went on to warn that the act of “communicating false information with the aim of making people believe that destruction dangerous to people will be committed is punishable by two years of imprisonment and a €30,000 [fine]”.
France is not the only country targeted by threats. HLN reported that Ostend Airport in Belgium was also evacuated following a bomb alert.
Coinciding with the arrival of a TUI flight from Malaga that had been diverted from its intended destination of Lille, the airport terminal was reportedly evacuated to be searched by police.
“Shortly after the flight to Lille was diverted to Ostend, we heard from the federal police that there was also a bomb threat to us,” an official from the airport said.
“At that time, the federal police evacuated all people present in the building.”
The airport has since reopened.
A man identifying as a supporter of the Islamic State murdered two men and wounded another on Monday. The police shot the man dead on Tuesday morning. https://t.co/h1SHO4aGAe
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 17, 2023
Although authorities have not yet spoken of the possible motives behind the threats, the numerous scares come during a period of increased tensions between Europe and the Muslim world.
Having increased amid Quran burnings in Scandinavia, hostilities have spiked in the wake of the Hamas attacks on Israel. EU support for the Jewish state has angered Muslims across the globe.
This has coincided with an increase in terror incidents in Europe, with recent fatal Islamist attacks in France and Belgium having caused further polarisation.
A decision by some regional and national authorities to ban pro-Palestine marches also appears to have enflamed tensions. Germany’s capital Berlin and the whole of France declared such protests illegal last week.
The European Commission has ignored anti-censorship pleas from Israel, stating that footage depicting Hamas “atrocities” and “war crimes”, or anything to do with the terrorist organisation, must be censored on the European internet. https://t.co/EL0gESQo1u
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) October 18, 2023