Cyprus Mail

Schoolchildren return after bonfire scares

By Evie Andreou

AROUND a hundred pupils of the Ayios Georgios primary school in Aglandjia who had stayed at home on Tuesday after parents said they had been terrorised by acts of vandalism and firecrackers being thrown in their school yard, have returned to their classrooms under increased security measures, the Education ministry said yesterday.

The parents’ association had announced on Monday that their children would abstain from classes for the rest of this week as they feared for their safety since the authorities had failed to stop a group of teenagers from causing harm to the school.

Parents agreed to let their children return to classes yesterday after the Education ministry intervened on Tuesday and gave permission to the school district to utilise more funds from their budget to hire more private security guards, and after police agreed to patrol the school round the clock. Wednesday was a public holiday.

“The school is under constant surveillance. We have solved the problem and everyone is satisfied,” said Anna Violari, senior official at the ministry’s primary education department.

The teenagers were reportedly stealing tools and material from a nearby construction site and were also gathering materials to build up their Easter bonfire in the school’s yard.

Parents said that they were also lighting fires and throwing firecrackers terrifying students who were staying at school for afternoon classes, and also burned down the school’s kiosk.

The Aglandjia school district had said that police could not interfere since the troublemakers were minors and thus not accountable to law.

To alleviate the problem, Aglandjia municipal crews daily collect what the teenagers gather in the school yard for burning.

Traditionally, bonfires are lit on Easter Saturday to burn a replica of Judas after the message of resurrection is heard. Youths collect wood and old furniture to make as a large a bonfire as possible.

Police said that leading up to Easter, they have increased patrols around schools island wide.

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