Russian authorities evacuated more than 15,000 people from various centers in Moscow on Wednesday over bomb threats, bringing the total number of evacuees to 45,000 in three days.
Anonymous callers made bomb threats to 12 shopping centers, four universities, and three railway stations Wednesday, prompting authorities to evacuate more than 15,000 people from those areas, according to The Telegraph. Various individuals have made anonymous calls over the internet to emergency services since Sept. 11, resulting in evacuations of 45,000 people in big cities all over Russia.
The identity of the callers has been a source of confusion for local authorities, with some claiming that the callers are military officials instigating terrorist threat readiness drills in preparation for the 2018 World Cup, while others claim that the threats originated from spam callers in the Ukraine.
Olga Shterk, a spokeswoman for the Chelyabinsk regional police, said that Russia’s Federal Security Service was investigating the incidents as a “spam attack,” according to Radio Free Europe.
“The phone calls were made via the Internet and therefore it will be difficult to locate the site from where the calls were made,” Shterk told RFE. “There are programs allowing to make phone calls from tablets, smartphones, and so on. The caller might have hidden his/her whereabouts using special software.”
The threats began with an anonymous call to the Omsk mayor’s office, which prompted the first of what proved to be several evacuations. Authorities have not found any explosives in any of the areas threatened by the caller or callers.
The investigation is ongoing.
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