Rus­sia plagued by spate of on­line bomb warn­ings

Waikato Times - - WORLD -

RUS­SIA: More than 45,000 peo­ple have been evac­u­ated from 200 ‘‘tar­gets’’ in dozens of Rus­sian cities af­ter a wave of anony­mous bomb threats over the past three days, amid spec­u­la­tion of ei­ther for­eign in­ter­fer­ence or a do­mes­tic anti-ter­ror drill.

Yes­ter­day, 15,000 peo­ple were evac­u­ated from places in Moscow, in­clud­ing Red Square, af­ter calls were made to shop­ping cen­tres, three rail­way sta­tions and at least four uni­ver­si­ties.

Anony­mous

call­ers

are re­ported to be us­ing the in­ter­net to alert emer­gency ser­vices or fa­cil­i­ties di­rectly, claim­ing places have ex­plo­sive de­vices hid­den in­side.

Since Septem­ber 11, dozens of schools, uni­ver­si­ties, malls, rail­way sta­tions, air­ports and gov­ern­ment of­fices have been evac­u­ated and in­spected by po­lice in 29 cities all over Rus­sia - from Kalin­ingrad in the west to Vladi­vos­tok in the far east. No traces of ex­plo­sive de­vices have been found in any of the build­ings, the Me­duza news out­let re­ports.

Anony­mous sources in law en­force­ment told the In­ter­fax news agency that the mass evac­u­a­tions were prompted by a spam at­tack ‘‘mas­ter­minded from abroad’’. The state-run RIA Novosti news agency cited an­other anony­mous source that said bomb threats were ‘‘com­ing from Ukraine’’.

But sev­eral re­gional news out­lets quoted uniden­ti­fied mil­i­tary of­fi­cials who main­tain that the evac­u­a­tions are part of a Rus­sian anti-ter­ror ex­er­cise, per­formed in prepa­ra­tion for the stag­ing of next year’s foot­ball World Cup fi­nals.

An ad­min­is­tra­tor of a mall in Bryansk told the Kom­m­er­sant news­pa­per that the num­ber dis­played on her phone had 15 fig­ures in it and started with +88, the coun­try code for Bangladesh.

The calls were dif­fi­cult to trace be­cause they were made over the in­ter­net and were pro­cessed by dif­fer­ent servers, in­clud­ing ones abroad, said Gen­nady Gud­kov, a Moscow-based se­cu­rity ex­pert and for­mer par­lia­men­tar­ian.

- Tele­graph Group

PHOTO: REUTERS

A se­cu­rity guard blocks the en­trance to the State De­part­ment Store, GUM, in cen­tral Moscow, be­cause of a bomb threat.

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