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Paris bomb threats spark panicked scenes

A number of high-profile sites in and around Paris have been evacuated following bomb threats. It comes just one day after a teacher was stabbed to death in the northern French town of Arras, with authorities attributing the attack to a suspected Islamic extremist.

The Louvre art museum, Gare de Lyon train station and the Palace of Versailles were all evacuated Saturday, according to French media reports. Footage posted on social media showed scores of visitors being led away from the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles, two of the most-popular tourist attractions in France.

It comes amid surging tensions in France following the massive Hamas surprise attack, which hit targets across southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,300 people. In response, Israel has targeted Gaza with an intense air campaign, which local authorities say has resulted in 1,900 deaths. The Israelis have mobilized 360,000 reservists for an anticipated ground offensive.

On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron said that 13 French nationals had been killed in the attacks, with another 17 missing, presumed taken hostage. French authorities have banned pro-Palestinian demonstrations, which they say “generate public order disturbances,” leading to a number of arrests.

Late on Thursday morning, officials at the Louvre announced that the museum was closing for security reasons, with a spokesperson telling the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency that it had received “a written message reporting a risk for the museum and its visitors.”

Footage that was posted on X, formerly Twitter, shows families racing away from the Louvre following the announcement.

The Palace of Versailles was evacuated early on Saturday morning and won’t reopen for the day, after a bomb threat was received, according to AFP. Video posted on X shows hundreds of visitors calmly leaving the former royal residence, which receives nearly 15 million visitors per year.

Also on Saturday afternoon, the Gare de Lyon station, one of the seven main stations in Paris, was evacuated, reportedly following the discovery of a suspicious package.

On Friday, 57-year-old Dominique Bernard was stabbed to death outside a school in Arras, with three other people injured. The suspected attacker, a 20-year-old of Chechen origin, was arrested after what Macron described as an act of Islamist terror. French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin later said that there was “probably a link between what’s happening in the Middle East and this incident.”

The attack came almost three years to the day since French teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded by a radical Islamist after showing his class a cartoon depicting the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. Following Friday’s stabbing, the French government raised its terrorism threat level and deployed 7,000 troops to assist the police.

Friday’s attack came after Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas leader, called for demonstrations across the world in support of the Palestinian cause in what some commentators dubbed ‘Day of Jihad.’

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