Minister on bomb threats Pranksters will not disrupt CSEC, CAPE exams

The Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion says it will not al­low pranksters to dis­rupt the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the CSEC and CAPE ex­am­i­na­tions.

This, even as they in­tro­duced stricter se­cu­ri­ty mea­sures fol­low­ing wide­spread calls to­day that a num­ber of bombs had been plant­ed at sev­er­al sec­ondary schools across the coun­try.

Speak­ing from his of­fice at the Ed­u­ca­tion Tow­er, Port-of-Spain ear­li­er - Gar­cia as­sured stu­dents and par­ents that there was noth­ing to pan­ic about.

He said, “Very ear­ly this morn­ing, I re­ceived a call from one of the prin­ci­pals of a school stat­ing that she re­ceived an email threat yes­ter­day evening, say­ing that a bomb would be placed in the school bag of one of the stu­dents and if a cer­tain sum of mon­ey was not paid by 10 am to­day, then the bomb would be det­o­nat­ed.”

“As a re­sult, there would chaos in schools.”

While he did not iden­ti­fy the prin­ci­pal he spoke with, Gar­cia said the TTPS was con­tact­ed.

Re­veal­ing the Cy­ber Crime Unit, as well as the Ca­nine Unit, had been alert­ed, Gar­cia said of­fi­cers with snif­fer dogs be­gan vis­it­ing schools from as ear­ly as 6 am to­day to con­duct de­tailed search­es of premis­es, stu­dents and ar­riv­ing school of­fi­cials.

In a re­lease this morn­ing, the min­istry iden­ti­fied two of the schools which in­clud­ed St. Joseph’s Con­vent, Port-of-Spain and St. Joseph’s Con­vent, St. Joseph.

There was an un­con­firmed re­port that a sim­i­lar threat had been been re­ceived by of­fi­cials at St. George’s Col­lege, Barataria - spark­ing ru­mors that the threats were be­ing ex­tend­ed on­ly to Catholic-run schools.

How­ev­er, this was de­bunked by Gar­cia who said, “While we felt this was an iso­lat­ed in­ci­dent, we learnt fur­ther that very many oth­er schools have been af­fect­ed and the prin­ci­pals, in ac­cor­dance with the pro­ce­dures that has been de­vel­oped, have con­tact­ed the po­lice and they are do­ing search­es to en­sure there is not de­vice that can cause any dis­rup­tion of ex­ams.”

Gar­cia went on, “It is my feel­ing that this had been de­lib­er­ate­ly done to af­fect the smooth run­ning of the ex­ams.”

Con­demn­ing the ac­tion, he added, “It is on­ly some­body with a de­ranged mind would think of such an ac­tion and that has to be con­demned.”

Warn­ing that the per­pe­tra­tors of this crime would feel the full brunt of the law when­ev­er they are found, Gar­cia ap­pealed to par­ents and stu­dents to re­main calm.

He said, “Ex­am­i­na­tions are be­ing writ­ten as nor­mal so they have not suc­ceed­ed with their de­vi­ous plan.”

Mean­while, a fa­ther of a stu­dent at­tend­ing St. George’s Col­lege con­firmed he was asked to pick up his daugh­ter around 10 am - while the moth­er of a child at­tend­ing a Catholic pri­ma­ry school in Port-of-Spain con­firmed a sim­i­lar move by school au­thor­i­ties.

The two said they were told the ac­tion was tak­en in the in­ter­est of the chil­drens’ safe­ty.

Prin­ci­pal at St. Joseph’s Con­vent, Port-of-Spain - An­na Pounder is­sued a re­lease which ad­vised par­ents and guardians that, “Act­ing on in­for­ma­tion re­ceived, the school au­thor­i­ties con­tact­ed the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties and passed it on to them. The Po­lice vis­it­ed the school yes­ter­day and this morn­ing of­fi­cers of the Spe­cial Branch and Ca­nine Unit did a thor­ough sweep of every area. The school has been de­clared safe and we are con­tin­u­ing with class and ex­ams.”

The Email Threat Sent To Prin­ci­pals

“This mes­sage is to EVERY­ONE. On Fri­day 24th May, 2019 we are send­ing a stu­dent with a bomb. The bomb will go off at 10 am if you do not send $100,000 TTD to pay­[email protected]­ If you do not send the mon­ey! We will blow up the de­vice. If you try to call the po­lice WE WILL BLOWUP THE DE­VICE ON SPOT. ANY at­tempt at DE­FUS­ING it your­self will cause it to ex­plode!”

TTPS Says Schools Safe

In a re­lease around mid­day, Po­lice Com­mis­sion­er Gary Grif­fith ad­vised mem­bers of the pub­lic that po­lice of­fi­cers had thor­ough­ly in­ves­ti­gat­ed bomb threats made against sev­er­al schools and these in­sti­tu­tions have now been de­clared safe for oc­cu­pa­tion by teach­ers and stu­dents.

The com­mis­sion­er led a team of of­fi­cers to St. Mary’s Col­lege; St. Joseph’s Con­vent, Port of Spain; Fa­ti­ma Col­lege; Holy Name Con­vent; and St. Joseph’s Con­vent, St. Joseph.

This, af­ter sev­er­al bomb threats were made against these schools to­day.

Grif­fith urged mem­bers of the pub­lic to use so­cial me­dia more re­spon­si­bly, as he said, “At the time when per­sons were shar­ing the post, po­lice of­fi­cers were ac­tive­ly en­gaged in in­ves­ti­gat­ing these threats.”

“This un­due pan­ic re­sult­ed from one in­di­vid­ual’s de­ci­sion to share the post on so­cial me­dia.”

The CoP ad­mit­ted some peo­ple may use in­ci­dents such as these as a way of self-pro­mo­tion or to achieve a sense of self-im­por­tance by shar­ing in­for­ma­tion on so­cial me­dia.

“How­ev­er, this has on­ly led to in­creased anx­i­ety and pan­ic among stu­dents, par­ents and staff at these schools, as many stu­dents are sit­ting their ex­am­i­na­tions to­day.”

Grif­fith said while per­sons should not triv­i­alise any bomb threat, he strong­ly ad­vised, “Per­sons that up­on re­ceiv­ing such a threat, that they should im­me­di­ate­ly make a re­port to the po­lice so that rel­e­vant pro­to­cols for in­ves­ti­gat­ing the au­then­tic­i­ty of such threats can be ac­ti­vat­ed.”

Reporter: Anna Lisa-Paul


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