Police on Monday were continuing to investigate the provenance of an email containing a bomb hoax that led to the evacuation of two malls, an aircraft at Larnaca airport and a casino in Nicosia on Sunday.
The first evacuation occurred at around 3pm at the Kings Avenue Mall in Paphos. In order not to cause panic, mall security initially told the public that they should step outside due to a ventilation malfunction. Sniffer dogs and the bomb squads combed the mall, and after nothing was found the all-clear was given at about 6pm.
At Larnaca airport, around 4pm airport authorities and police evacuated an aircraft following information that a suspicious item was on board.
Passengers disembarked so that the plane could be searched. The flight departed for Moscow later in the afternoon.
Meanwhile after similar information was received by authorities, the My Mall in Limassol was likewise evacuated around 4pm The premises were searched, and the all-clear was sounded at about 6pm.
The evacuation went smoothly, with loudspeakers and security personnel instructing the public to head for the exits.
Lastly, at about 7pm police received a call about a bomb at the casino in Engomi, Nicosia. After the casino was searched, it resumed normal operation at 8.30pm.
The call was placed from a payphone somewhere in Nicosia, police spokesman Andreas Angelides said.
Angelides said a crisis centre was set up immediately after the information came through.
“As you know, the searches that were conducted with the involvement of numerous departments, found nothing in connection with a suspicious item,” he said.
According to Angelides, the information on the three prior sites – the airport and the two malls – had been received via email, around 1.30pm.
The message was sent to a Larnaca airport email address, the spokesman said. It did not mention bombs, but referred to the presence of “suspicious items.”
What is curious is that the same email referred to suspicious items at three separate sites – the aircraft as well as the two malls.
The provenance of the email is being investigated, Angelides said.
Reports said the email came from abroad with the sender being a Russian businessman living in Limassol. A second Russian man, a lawyer, who visits Cyprus frequently was also named in the email.
Police questioned the two men but nothing untoward came up and reports suggested the two might have been the victims of a hacker.
The police spokesman declined on Monday to discuss details regarding the sender. He said a statement will be issued when the force had concrete leads.
“Some questions have been answered regarding this information but we should await the conclusion” of the investigation, Angelides said.