Two bomb scares in 24 hours prompt police reminder: ‘Look after your bags’
Police have urged people to keep a close eye on their belongings after two separate bomb scares within the space of 24 hours, both caused by suitcases that were left unattended.
In the first incident on Sunday, the southern end of Main Street had to cordoned off while the Royal Gibraltar Regiment’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal squad carried out a controlled explosion on a suitcase found next to the perimeter wall of The Convent.
On Monday evening, the air terminal at Gibraltar airport had to be evacuated after a suitcase was found outside in the car park adjacent to the Wessex Lounge.
Gibraltar, in common with most of Europe, is currently on a heightened state of alertness, with the threat level set at ‘Substantial’.
That means that a terrorist attack remains a strong possibility, although there is no intelligence of any specific threat to the Rock.
Given the wider backdrop, Gibraltar’s security forces take no chances in their response to potential threats.
“It’s important that people do no leave luggage or bags unattended because in the current heightened security climate, we regard this as a potential security risk and react accordingly,” a spokesman for the Royal Gibraltar Police said.
Police confirmed that the bag left unattended on Sunday had belonged to a driver who loaded his vehicle in the area but drove off and inadvertently left the suitcase behind.
Police were alerted at around 19.45 about the presence of the bag and, given the location on the perimeter wall of the Governor’s residence, immediately treated it as a potential improvised explosive device.
The area was sealed off and the regiment’s EOD squad was sent to the scene.
After an initial inspection, military personnel deployed a remotely operated vehicle to carry out a controlled explosion.
There was nothing suspicious inside the bag, which was destroyed by the controlled blast.
Around that time the owner of the suitcase, believed to be a visitor to Gibraltar, contacted police to tell them about his forgotten bag.
In yesterday’s incident, the regiment’s EOD squad was summoned to the scene after police carried out an initial inspection of the abandoned suitcase.
The air terminal was evacuated as a precaution but on this occasion, the owner of the suitcase – a passenger who had arrived on a private jet – was located in time to avoid the need for a controlled explosion.
There was no disruption to incoming flights.