Australian police have evacuated a number of schools in Sydney over attack threats, saying the operation has been launched “as a precaution.” It comes days after fake bomb threats caused hundreds to be evacuated in the city.
Several schools in Sydney’s north, south, and west were evacuated following a string of possible threats, New South Wales police spokesperson was quoted as saying by 9News channel. The operation is ongoing in as many as six schools, mygc.com.au reported.
Speaking to reporters, the spokesperson described the threats as “very low level,” saying that there was “nothing to substantiate that there is anything serious at any of them at this stage.”
The “threats” are only the latest in a string of attempts to exploit the moods and concerns of Australians in the wake of a hostage crisis in Sydney that took place in December of 2014, and other recent terrorist attacks globally. In New South Wales alone, several schools have already been subject to false-alarm evacuations due to an “elaborate series of hoax bomb threats,” as described by 7 News Sydney. Other buildings have recently been evacuated in “police operations,” included the iconic Sydney Opera House.
Meanwhile, making threats targeting schools and public places seems to have become an internet trend, as over the past week numerous similar cases have been reported in a number of Western countries, including the UK, France, and Belgium, as well as Tokyo and the US overseas territory of Guam. One “group” claiming responsibility for these earlier evacuations calls itself the “EvacuationSquad” and says it consists of “six individuals based internationally.” It has already changed numerous Twitter accounts, as they keep getting suspended following the hoaxes, but one that drew particular attention in the UK media, @SwatTheW0rld, used a photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin as its profile pictiure. This led to a headline in the Independent that misleadingly described the mystery hoaxers as being “pro-Putin.”
Yet, according to claims quoted by 9News, the so-called EvacuationSquad denies being responsible for the latest bomb calls in Australia.