False alarm over ‘sword’ highlights security awareness
When a retired police officer saw a man carrying what looked like a samurai sword in town yesterday, he did not hesitate to report his concerns. The phone call prompted a massive police response and a two-hour manhunt. In the event though, it proved to be a false alarm. The ‘sword’ was, in fact, a musical instrument.
The incident illustrates understandable public concerns in the wake of the London terror attack. It also underscores the fact that police here will respond swiftly and in force to such reports.
Security officials here have repeatedly insisted there is no intelligence of any specific threat to Gibraltar, but they are taking no chances.
Yesterday’s incident unfolded at around 1pm in the area of the ICC.
Police officers, including armed officers and a dig unit, arrived at the scene in several vehicles minutes after the report was received.
Officers searched the building, then moving the search across Main Street and sharing images of a suspect on social media.
The Primary Care Centre at the ICC closed all its doors except one entrance, which was manned by security.
Police officers eventually found the suspect at the other end of town on Red Sands Road just after 3pm.
He was carrying a didgeridoo, a wind instrument developed by indigenous Australians.
The search was called off and the public were notified on Twitter that a person was located carrying a musical instrument and there was no cause for public concern.
“Irrespective of the current security level, this report would have been something that we would have looked into,” a police spokesman told the Chronicle.
“Regardless of the circumstances, we would have launched a search, but recent events have heightened people’s awareness.”