16 Feb 2004

Fiji police mystified by motivation for series of bomb hoaxes

5:40 pm on 16 February 2004

Fiji police say the bomb threats which forced the Prime Minister to evacuate his Suva office twice today were hoaxes.

A police spokesperson, Mesaki Koroi, says that Mr Qarase, senior officials, several other ministers and hundreds of public servants were evacuated when police received two bomb threats over the phone around 8.30 this morning.

One call was made to the police commissioner, Andrew Hughes, and the second to the police headquarters in central Suva.

Mr Koroi says the callers said bombs had been placed in cars parked next several government offices but the army bomb disposal unit checked all cars parked in the vicinity but they found nothing.

Mr Koroi says another bomb threat was made around 11.30 to the office of the Chief Justice and Government officials were evacuated again. However bomb disposal officials had again found nothing.

He says the police have no idea who is behind the hoax calls or what the motive is.

"We believe that it is just some people are up to no good and they're just trying to destabilise what little semblance of sanity that we have."

During the weekend central Lautoka was thrown into a panic when a bomb hoax forced the evacuation of the city's largest hypermarket just as thousands of shoppers and tourists from a visiting cruise ship were inside.

Several streets were blocked off and the army's bomb disposal squad was called to check the premises.