The Eiffel Tower in Paris has reportedly been evacuated in response to a perceived security threat. The threat is believed to pertain to some abandoned luggage, and police in Paris are concerned enough that they stormed the building fully armed as they kicked out tourists and blocked off entrances to the Eiffel Tower.
As RT reports, local media is indicating that the Eiffel Tower was evacuated most likely due to a stray backpack. Visitors to the iconic structure have been taking to social media in order to share their stories of stress and disbelief as the Eiffel Tower is being swarmed and surrounded by local police, as well as the military. Witnesses to the security scare are saying that police and other law enforcement officials are “all over” the property surrounding the Eiffel Tower, as well as inside the structure.
Witnesses are sharing photos on Twitter that show law enforcement officials armed with military-grade assault rifles guarding the entrance to the now-evacuated Eiffel Tower as the scene is processed.
France has faced a slew of terrorist attacks over the last year, and as such, officials are taking no chances with a suspicious package reportedly being found at the Eiffel Tower. This is the first time that the Eiffel Tower has had to be evacuated in response to a terror threat, but French officials are erring on the side of caution when it comes to protecting the lives and well-being of French citizens and tourists alike.
The largest of the terror attacks to target France in the last year was the November 13, 2015, attack that killed at least 130 and injured hundreds more, reports CNN. The unprovoked, unprecedented attack on Paris was the responsibility of ISIS and set into motion sweeping new anti-terrorism laws in the nation.
Just last month, Rouen, France was the site of a disturbing terror attack that resulted in the death of a priest. Once again, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. In response, French President Francois Hollande declared that his nation is officially in a “state of war.”
Only weeks before today’s scare that has resulted in the Eiffel Tower being evacuated, France was again struck by terrorism. On July 14, a Bastille Day terrorist plowed his vehicle into a crowd of revelers in Nice, killing 85 innocent onlookers (many of them children) and injuring many more.
Literally, hundreds of people were evacuated from the Eiffel Tower on Friday evening in France as a precaution, and most of those removed from the tourist hot-spot were incredibly fearful given the current climate of terrorism and worry in France. The photos shared on social media showed crowds of terrified onlookers surrounded by armed police and military members.
However, Reuters reported that after hours of fear and confusion, the Eiffel Tower was evacuated based on a false alarm. Apparently, the suspicious bag was nothing more than someone’s discarded or forgotten backpack.
With the recent string of terror attacks and often religiously-motivated violence taking place across the nation, often without warning, it is likely situations such as today’s needless Eiffel Tower evacuation will continue to plague France. Authorities can’t afford to ignore warning signs or even hunches in the wake of so much loss of life.
If the response of terrified Eiffel Tower visitors is any indication, however, it’s possible that “crying wolf” may cause serious trouble among the citizenry and (perhaps more importantly) France’s lucrative tourism industry.
What do you think? Did authorities in France follow the proper course of action today? Was it appropriate for Parisian authorities to have the Eiffel Tower evacuated simply because someone reportedly left their backpack unattended or should they have confirmed the threat before storming the Eiffel Tower with guns drawn?
[Image via Kanuman/Shutterstock]