By Karine Kalantarian
A state-run college in Yerevan was promptly evacuated on Tuesday after what authorities described as a false bomb alert, the second such incident in less than two months.
Officials said police received a phone call in the morning warning them that an explosive device had been planted inside the State Construction and Architecture University located in the city center. A team of police officers and rescuers police sealed off and searched the building but found no explosives there, allowing more than a hundred students and university staff to return to their auditoriums.
The incident took place during a period of winter examinations administered at virtually all state-run universities across Armenia.
“Apparently somebody wanted to skip exams or to make a bad joke,” said Ashot Hakobian, deputy head of the Armenian government’s Department on Emergency Situations. “Whatever their motives, such deeds are punishable by law.”
The law-enforcement authorities claimed last month to have arrested an anonymous caller who forced a similar evacuation of a secondary school in central Yerevan in November. The incident prompted Armenia’s National Security Service to issue a special statement threatening potential trouble-makers with tough punishment.
According to the emergency department spokesman, Nikolay Grigorian, the man who made the false alert this time around identified himself as Armen Khachatrian and even left a phone number. “But the phone number turned out to be fictitious,” he told RFE/RL.
“We hope that this man will be tracked down too,” Grigorian added. “This is the best way to prevent more such incidents.”