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ARGENTINA | 18-10-2023 12:44

Buenos Aires on alert after bomb threats at Israeli, US embassies

Embassies of Israel and the United States in Argentina received bomb threats on Wednesday, police sources informed. Buildings were evacuated but no explosives were found following a police security operation.

The embassies of Israel and the United States in Argentina were the targets of bomb threats on Wednesday, according to police sources.

The Israeli Embassy in the centre of the capital, near the Casa Rosada, was evacuated amid heavy police presence, reporters witnessed.

Police sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the Embassy had received a threat via email to its diplomatic office.

The intimidating message arrived by email. "We have planted a bomb and we are going to kill all Jews," it read. 

By midday the police had withdrawn from the area and traffic was restored.

A threat was also received by the US Embassy in the upscale Palermo suburb, where a reporter saw employees gathered outside until police allowed them to return. US Ambassador to Argentina Marc Stanley is Jewish.

An official at the US Embassy later said there was no "credible threat."

"We continue to operate normally," he told the AFP news agency, although he admitted that perhaps "people who were entering to get their visas had to wait a bit" outside.

The US Embassy has faced various tense situation throughout the year. On March 15 this year, visa applicants were evacuated after a suspicious black backpack was found at the gate. It ended up being a false alarm. Two weeks later, a Syrian man with a false passport was arrested. Security forces activated the anti-terrorism protocol. His car was searched, and nothing was found. The man ended up being an Argentine who lived in Mataderos.

Both threats will be investigated in a case to be heard by Federal Judge María Eugenia Capuchetti.

Argentina has the largest Jewish community in Latin America, counting more than 250,000 people.

In recent decades, it has suffered attacks such as the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community centre that killed 85 people and left 300 injured. That attack came just two years after the Israeli Embassy was bombed, killing 29 and wounding 200.

Argentina is currently in the process evacuating some 1,500 of its citizens from Israel, after the bloody attack by Hamas militants on October 7 left about 1,400 people dead, mostly civilians.

In retaliation, Israel has launched an offensive in Gaza that the Hamas-led Health Ministry says has claimed the lives of 3,478 people, also mostly civilians.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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