Around fifty schools targeted by the threat of a “joke”

1 week, 6 days ago - November 17, 2023
Around fifty schools targeted by the threat...
Police were on alert yesterday after several schools on the island received a threatening email reporting the presence of an explosive device in the establishment. A major security system was immediately deployed in each establishment. But ultimately it will be more fear than harm...

“Explosive devices were placed in the school.” The shocking and disturbing content of the email addressed to the management of around fifty schools on the island, depicts the author as having been sexually assaulted, suffering insults from unscrupulous people unaware of his suffering, concluding with " We sentence us to death . ” The police having been informed, the Explosive Handling Unit (EHU) and the Special Mobile Force (SMF) were immediately mobilized. They carefully inspected the targeted establishments because examinations were planned in some.

After verification and confirmation of the absence of explosive devices, the examinations were able to take place normally. A crisis unit with the collaboration of the National Emergency Operations Command, the Ministry of Education and the schools affected by the bomb threat, had established a line of communication with the police for real-time updates and collective decisions to ensure the safety of all those involved.

By 3 p.m., the SMF had inspected all establishments and confirmed that no bombs were present. Around thirty SMF officers were mobilized for this exercise, in addition to members of the regular police and other units. The case has been referred to the Cyber ​​Crime Unit to trace the sender, whose name in some cases varies between and The emails, whose content is identical and full of mistakes, lead the police to believe that it could be the work of a joker. Remember that in Mauritius anyone found guilty of making a false bomb threat faces a fine of up to Rs 100,000 and a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Almost identical threats elsewhere

These false bomb threats also affected several establishments abroad. Threats rocked Jamaica this week, reports an article in The Gleaner. The modus operandi is similar: the same message was sent to dozens of institutions. These threats, considered hoaxes by the Jamaican police, were mainly transmitted by email or telephone. One person has been arrested and the investigation, complicated by the use of sophisticated software by the perpetrator(s) to conceal their identity, is being assisted by the FBI. In Lyon, France, on November 13, 22 schools were hit by a false bomb threat, depriving thousands of students of lessons. The Lausanne Vocational School (EPSIC) in Switzerland was also the victim of a false bomb threat on the afternoon of November 13, leading to the evacuation of around 900 students. Law enforcement found nothing suspicious. A similar situation occurred at a private school in New Delhi, India, in September.

Panic, challenges and a focus on safety

aily routine was seriously disrupted yesterday morning by an e-mail received in private and public schools reporting explosive devices placed on their premises. Results: evacuations and searches, but no bomb was found. Parents, staff, school officials and the Ministry of Education faced panic, while doing their best to control the situation.

At 7:30 a.m. at Clavis International Primary School, administrative and maintenance staff are already there, ready for a normal day. But things will quickly change. “We received an email reporting a bomb threat. At the same time, other establishments called us to express their concerns, having received the same email (...) We contacted the police, who asked us to evacuate, the priority being safety and not taking the threat seriously. the slight. We have communicated with teachers and parents to explain to them that the school is closed ,” a member of management told us.

But for those already on the way to school, it was a nightmare requiring composure and planning, testifies a school van driver from Clavis, who picks up students from the North, from 6:30 a.m. “ I was on my way when I received a call from a relative. I called other colleagues and management, and we were instructed to go to the Bagatelle shopping center and then take the children home. I coordinated with the parents. Those who worked nearby came to pick them up and others asked me to drop them off at relatives’ homes. Fortunately everyone is safe, but it was a real panic. »

SM, whose children attend Northfields International School, is one of the parents relieved that the situation has been brought under control. “I was going to drop my children off before heading to work when I received a call from my wife informing me that the school was closed due to a bomb threat. I turned around to take my children home to the care of their grandparents. What matters is that everyone is safe. » Another parent, whose daughter is in grade 7 in the same school, testifies: “We were on the way when my daughter received a message from her friends. At first we thought it was a joke, but later other parents contacted us (...) On site, the parking lot was under surveillance by the police and the SMF, among others, and the children were evacuated . Despite the panic, the situation was managed well. »

Elsewhere, there was talk of patience and trust in the authorities to manage the crisis. “The police intervened. We were waiting for confirmation that everything was in order, especially because there were exams. Once the green light was obtained, the exams took place. We are safe ,” said Bocage management. Westcoast had issued a press release informing parents of the evacuation plan and the measures to ensure the safety and supervision of everyone and asking them to pick up their child.

Public establishments

Furthermore, several state colleges, including GMD Atchia State College, Rivière-des-Anguilles SSS, Emmanuel Anquetil SSS and Dunputh Lallah SSS, which were SC and HSC examination centers, were also targeted by the bomb alert. A real challenge for the authorities, who did their best to ensure the safety of students. The Ministry of Education and the Mauritius Examinations Syndicate had set up a crisis unit counting on the expertise of the police to decide on the course of action and ensure security by avoiding any disruption of exams for 3,250 students yesterday morning from 8 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. in different centers. They were able to return home safely.

Meanwhile, ahead of the afternoon exams scheduled for 1 p.m., the centers concerned were checked to ensure no one was in danger. “Invigilators have been asked to leave the premises until all centers are secure. 1,125 students were able to take their exams. In some cases, students were redirected to other centers to take their exams in complete safety ,” explains the communications unit of the Ministry of Education.

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