Eiffel Tower reopens after bomb scare

Eiffel Tower reopens after bomb scare

The area under Paris' Eiffel Tower has been opened up to tourists again after an anonymous caller phoned in a bomb threat and police combed through the famous monument looking for suspicious objects.

France's BFM television station and other French media reported that police found nothing suspicious at the tower in Paris, which is France's most popular tourist monument.

At midnight, people were walking around under the tower and riding bikes there. The tower itself did not reopen to tourists, but in any case it is closed to tourists at that hour.

French media said a second tourist hub - the Saint-Michel subway station near Notre Dame Cathedral - was also briefly evacuated.

Media reported that the scare was a false alarm.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the threats. But it comes after the head of France’s counterespionage agency was quoted this weekend as saying that the risk of a terrorist attack on French soil has never been higher.

Bernard Squarcini told Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that France’s history as a colonial master in North Africa, its military presence in Afghanistan and a bill aimed at banning burka-style Muslim veils in public all make the country a prime target for certain radical Islamist groups.

Earlier yesterday the ban on face-covering Islamic veils passed its final hurdle in parliament, but there was no immediate indication the threats were linked to the proposed ban.

The proposal drew the indignation of the number two of al-Qaida, Ayman al-Zawahri, who said the drive to ban the veil amounted to discrimination against Muslim women.

Bomb threats are frequent in Paris, a city that has also experienced terrorism firsthand.

Algerian Islamic insurgents bombed the Saint-Michel station on July 25, 1995, killing eight people and injuring 150.

It was the first attack in a campaign of violence that terrorised Paris subway commuters. Gas cooking canisters loaded with nails, sometimes hidden in garbage cans, were used in many of the bombings.

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