British and French schools hit by bomb scares
A Putin-sympathising Twitter group that says it supports the regime of Syria's Bashar al-Assad has claimed responsibility for international "mayhem" as thousands of pupils were evacuated from 14 British and six French schools yesterday following bomb scares.
The group, which uses an email address with a Russian ".ru" domain name and calls itself "Evacuators 2K16", has now been removed from the social network, after inviting students to get in touch if they want to "get out of school".
Bomb threats were made to six schools in England's West Midlands, four in London and four in Cornwall this morning.
Students in Paris were also affected, where six schools were evacuated. All the scares were believed to be hoax calls.
A Twitter account claimed responsibility for the calls. The alert comes only a week after four schools in the West Midlands sent pupils home following similar hoax calls.
The account claiming responsibility, which used the handle @Ev4cuati0nSquad, also claimed to be able to "divert the police away from a crime you're going to commit".
The profile picture showed Russian president Vladimir Putin and one tweet read: "We support the regime of Bashar al-Assad." But it stated its location as "Everywhere" and described itself as "6 individuals based internationally".
West Midlands Police said calls were made "in quick succession" at about 9am to four schools in Sandwell, one in Dudley and one in south Birmingham.
In London, four hoax calls were made to schools claiming "a suspicious device" had been left in their premises.
Ricards Lodge School was also evacuated as a precaution.
A police spokesman said: "The schools were evacuated as a precaution while the incidents were looked into.
"Searches of the premises have been completed and all the incidents have been stood down.
"The incidents are being treated as malicious communications."