Thousands evacuated in Lourdes bomb scare
A bomb scare forced the evacuation of the Roman Catholic sanctuaries in the French pilgrimage destination of Lourdes on Sunday as 30,000 worshippers celebrated the Feast of the Assumption.
"A bomb warning was received at the police station, announcing that four bombs were going to go off at around 3.00pm in the sanctuaries," the site's press officer Pierre Adias told AFP just before 2.00pm (1200 GMT).
"We're trying to evacuate the shrines and to prevent those people who left to have lunch from coming back in. This is proceeding calmly," he said.
On August 15, Catholics celebrate the Virgin Mary's ascent to heaven, and Lourdes -- a southern French town where the faithful believe the Virgin Mary appeared in a vision 152 years ago -- is a popular site to mark the event.
© 2010 AFP