Pilgrims at Lourdes Evacuated in Bomb Scare
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LOURDES, France, AUG. 16, 2010 (Zenit.org).- The French authorities consider Lourdes a symbolic place that could be the target of a terrorist attacks, which is why an anonymous bomb threat obliged them to evacuate 30,000 pilgrims on the feast of the Assumption.
On Sunday at 7:39 a.m., the Lourdes police station in the French Pyrenees received a telephone call from a man who said he had placed four bombs which were to explode at 3:00 p.m.
"Given the symbolic character of Lourdes, a city that could be the object of a terrorist threat, we had to take this call seriously," the prefect of the Upper Pyrenees region, Rene Bidal, said on Sunday during a press conference.
The Massabielle grotto, place of the apparitions of the Virgin to St. Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879), the young visionary who received Our Lady's message in 1858 that she is the Immaculate Conception, and the other shrines of the city were evacuated peacefully. After the police confirmed that the enclosure was free of explosives, the torch procession was held that night.
The French Council of Muslim Worship condemned "in "the most vigorous way" on Sunday the notification of the bomb and, in a communiqué, was delighted that "the shrines of Lourdes have found again their climate of security, peace and serenity."