Paris' Busiest Train Station Evacuated As Police Search For “Dangerous” Terror Suspects
Paris’ Gare du Nord train station, one of the city’s major transportation hubs and the busiest train station in Europe, was evacuated on Monday as armed police searched for three “dangerous” terror suspects. The station was cordoned off around 11pm local time as dozens of police officers and transport staff evacuated and surrounded the large station in northeast Paris and sealed off all roads leading in as local residents milled around.
— ????Le Globe (@LeGlobe_info) May 8, 2017
The busy station is the terminus of a large suburban and national rail network as well as Eurostar trains from London.
Passengers were confined to trains, according to witnesses cited by the Telegraph. Paris police spokeswoman Johanna Primevert told The Associated Press that the “verification” operation was aimed at “removing doubt” but would not say what prompted it or whether there had been any injuries or arrests.
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French police tweeted that there was an operation underway at the busy station, which is the terminus of a large suburban and national rail network as well as Eurostar trains from London and Thalys lines to and from Brussels and Amsterdam. A Eurostar spokeswoman said the incident did not appear to have any relation to its trains and did not appear to affect its passengers. The operation began after the last Eurostar arrivals and departures late Monday.
Gare du Nord in Paris evacuated pic.twitter.com/LcihDpEiqd
— Charlotte Mason (@masonstoney) May 8, 2017
Dave James Phillips, a 39-year-old technology consultant from Britain, said he was getting off the last train in from London when he saw officers flooding the station. “There were police immediately, and a chap with his hand on his gun,” Phillips told AP. “As we were walking down the platform, one came down and said, ‘Rapide, rapide. Out, out.’”
Phillips said police kept pouring into the station as passengers were hustled out and police buses and unmarked cars were “driving quite dramatically up the road.” Phillips said he had since left the area.
“Hopefully nothing happened,” he said.
According to the Le Parisien newspaper, police proceeded to evacuate and search a specific high speed train from Valenciennes, northern France, with 200 people on board. They were looking for three men that a “partner country” had warned French intelligence last Friday were due to arrive in France where they are suspected of seeking to carry out an imminent attack. According to unconfirmed reports two of the men were thought to be Belgian nationals and one Afghan.
Since then, there have been reported sightings of the trio in Paris, Bordeaux and Marseille, each time prompting a major police operation. This time, the French capital’s daily said, a train conductor and ticket vendor had alerted police to their possible presence.
Security has been particularly tight in the final stages of France’s presidential elections, which ended on Sunday with the election of centrist Emmanuel Macron. France remains under a state of emergency after a string of terror attacks in the last two years left more than 230 dead. The latest occurred on April 20 when an Islamist radical shot dead a policeman on the Champs-Elysées in Paris before being gunned down by other officers.