Paris Gare du Nord station evacuated as bomb squad blows up suspicious package


FILE PHOTO: Police patrol the Gare du Nord train station © Yves Herman / Reuters

Thousands of people were forced to abandon the Gare du Nord station in central Paris after police found what eyewitnesses described as an unattended piece of luggage. The bomb squad then carried out a safe controlled detonation of the object.

A video posted on Twitter showed a tightly-packed crowd being held back by train station attendants in the atrium of the station, one of the busiest in the French capital, while an explosion rang out in the background.

The bomb alert came hours after French authorities announced that they had arrested three radicalized French women last week, who “were preparing an imminent, violent act” – thought to be an attack on a train station. The women – described as “fanatics” by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve – were in possession of a car loaded with gas cylinders, when they were stopped on Sunday near the Notre Dame Cathedral in the heart of the city.

“There are others out there,” warned French President Francois Hollande on Friday afternoon from Athens, where he is attending an international summit.

This is the second such incident at Gare du Nord this month. On September 4th, panic spread following rumors of an explosive on a Thalys train – the same high-speed service from Belgium where an Islamist radical attempted to stage a mass shooting last year. In the end police cordoned off a part of the station, and detonated another suspicious package. No one was arrested in connection with that incident.