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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Bomb threats trigger mass evacuations across US

A series of hoax email threats have forced some states to clear their administrative buildings

A mass-emailed bomb threat received by officials in several US states on Wednesday prompted the evacuation of some statehouse buildings and disrupted government operations. No explosives were found, local authorities have said.

The incidents follow a spate of “swatting” incidents — false reports of gunfire at the homes of public figures. Last week, pranksters targeted several US officials with the calls, as well as billionaire currency speculator George Soros.

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In the threatening email sent on Wednesday morning, the author said they had “placed multiple explosives inside of your State Capitol.” These bombs were “well hidden inside” and would “go off in a few hours,” the email said, according to multiple reports. The same message was received by government offices in at least 23 states, according to CNN.

Among those who received the threats were officials from Kentucky, Mississippi, Georgia, Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, Alaska, Hawaii, and others. Several states evacuated their government buildings after receiving the warning. There were no reports of suspicious items found during the searches.

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In Minnesota, the bomb threat interrupted oral arguments at the state Supreme Court in the Capitol, which had to be moved to other courtrooms, Minnesota Judicial Branch spokesman Kyle Christopherson told AP.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear posted about the evacuation of the state capitol on X (formerly Twitter), saying “we are aware of similar threats made to other offices across the country.”

Gabe Sterling, the chief operating officer in the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, wrote on X that there would be “chaos agents sowing discord for 2024” and urged citizens not to let them “increase tensions.”

Hours later, Sterling reported that his own family had become victims of “swatting,” saying that 911 received a call that “a drug deal gone bad,” resulting in a shooting at his home.

The FBI later stated on Wednesday, calling the email threats “a hoax” that was being taken “very seriously” because of the danger they posed to innocent people, multiple news outlets reported. The bureau added that so far there was “no information to indicate a specific and credible threat,” but said it would continue to investigate the cases.