Russia plagued by spate of online bomb warnings
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.
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
A security guard blocks the entrance to the State Department Store, GUM, in central Moscow, because of a bomb threat.