Hoax bomb threats and evacuations disrupted the school day Thursday at more than 20 institutions in the United Kingdom and France — again. At least 18 schools in the West Midlands and London, as well as five in Paris, went on high alert for the second time this week after phone threats came in linked to a Twitter account that supports Russian President Vladimir Putin, Agence France-Presse reported.
Some schools dismissed students for the day, while others asked kids to come back after investigators combed the premises. But authorities in the West Midlands insisted students were never in danger, labeling the threats "false and malicious."
"At this stage there is nothing to suggest there is any credible threat to any of the schools," Detective Inspector Colin Mattinson said in a news release Thursday. “Our response officers have been sent to the locations to ensure there is no threat to anyone’s safety and support the schools. A police investigation is ongoing to find the person responsible for these calls.”
One of the prime suspects behind the threats was a group using a now-suspended Twitter account called "Evacuators 2K16" with the username @Ev4cuati0nSquad. The profile had a photo of Putin on it and was connected to a .ru email address, the Guardian reported. Previous posts supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and claimed the power to “divert the police away from a crime you’re going to commit," according to the Independent.
The group took responsibility for shutting down a similar number of European schools with threats Tuesday. "We do what we do for a few reasons: We hate the American government, we hate authority and we LOVE to cause mayhem," one Twitter message read.
Thursday's threats came in at about 8 a.m. local time and the all-clear was issued by 9.