Explosion in French city of Lyon wounds at least 13, Macron calls blast ‘attack’

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An explosion on a pedestrian street (Rue Victor Hugo) in the French city of Lyon has wounded at least eight people, France's interior ministry confirmed on Friday. (AFP Photo/@Samien Dalaud)
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An explosion on a pedestrian street (Rue Victor Hugo) in the French city of Lyon has wounded at least eight people, France's interior ministry confirmed on Friday. (Twitter: @prefetrhone)
Updated 24 May 2019

Explosion in French city of Lyon wounds at least 13, Macron calls blast ‘attack’

  • Prosecutors said the blast came from a suspected parcel bomb
  • None of the injuries appear to be life-threatening

LYON: An explosion on a pedestrian street (Rue Victor Hugo) in the French city of Lyon has wounded at least 13 people, France's interior ministry confirmed on Friday.

French police were hunting a suspected suitcase bomber on Friday after an explosion in the central city of Lyon that injured 13 people, officials said. The suspect was captured on security video leaving a case in front of a bakery shortly before an explosion occurred at around 5:30 pm, police sources and local mayor Denis Broliquier said.

The area where the explosion occurred, on the narrow strip of land between the Saone and Rhone rivers in the historic city centre, has been evacuated, according to reporters at the scene.

Interior ministry officials initially said eight people had been injured, but police sources later put the number hurt at 13, with none of the injuries thought to be life-threatening.

The Paris anti-terrorism prosecutor opened an investigation, with police treating the blast as an attempted homicide, law-enforcement officials said.

Kamel Amerouche, the regional authority's communications chief, said that the casualties suffered leg injuries. He said the explosion occurred in or outside a store of the bakery chain Brioche Doree.

President Emmanuel Macron, who was beginning a broadcast address as news of the explosion broke, described the incident as an "attack" with no fatalities, he said.

Macron, in his Facebook interview, said: "It's not for me to give a toll but it appears there are no fatalities. There have been injuries, so obviously I'm thinking of these injured and their families."

"An eight-year-old girl was wounded.... We're fairly relieved because apparently there were no serious injuries but on the other hand, we are certain it was an explosive device," said Denis Broliquier, mayor of the city's Second Arrondissement.

"There was an explosion and I thought it was a car crash," said Eva, a 17-year-old student who was about 15 metres (50 feet) from the site of the blast.

"There were bits of electric wire near me, and batteries and bits of cardboard and plastic. The windows were blown out," she said.

France has been on high alert following a wave of deadly terror attacks since 2015 which have killed more than 250 people.

"It's an area in the very centre of Lyon, a major street," the city's deputy mayor in charge of security, Jean-Yves Secheresse, told BFM television.

"These areas are highly secured, the police are continually present," as were patrols by soldiers deployed in a long-running anti-terror operation, he said.

Lyon is the third-biggest city in France. The population of the city plus its extensive suburbs is 2.3 million.

The most recent package bomb in France dates back to December 2007, when an explosion in front of a law office in Paris killed one person and injured another. Police never found who carried out that attack.

(With agencies)


Sri Lanka turns former military air base into third international airport

Updated 18 October 2019

Sri Lanka turns former military air base into third international airport

  • President Sirisena termed the opening of Palaly Airport for commercial flights “a significant landmark of the development program commenced after the conclusion of the conflict.”

COLOMBO: The Palaly Airport, a former military air base, has been turned into Jaffna International Airport, the third gateway to the island.

The new airport was inaugurated by the island’s President, Maithripala Sirisena, while Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and his Cabinet ministers also witnessed the ceremony.

The refurbished airport, costing $13.8 million, has a 1,400-meter long runway to facilitate ATR 72 aircraft, which can carry 70 passengers. It will later be expanded to 3,500 meters to handle large passenger aircraft such as the Airbus A320 and A321.

Located approximately 16 km north of Jaffna, Palaly was a Sri Lanka Air Force base and a domestic airport. The airport was built by the British Royal Air Force during the WWII.

After independence, Palaly Airport was used as the second international airport of the country for flights to southern India before the civil war began, almost 40 years ago.

President Sirisena termed the opening of Palaly Airport for commercial flights “a significant landmark of the development program commenced after the conclusion of the conflict.”

Prime Minister Wickremesinghe said the upgraded Jaffna International Airport marked a “turning point” in Sri Lankan aviation, which would be “an asset for the entire nation.”

“The airport will deploy regional airliners and be elevated to an Asian travel destination,” the premier said.

“The airport, which is expected to accommodate direct flights between Sri Lanka and India, will contribute toward promoting the tourism industry in the north. This will play an important role in the economic growth and overall development of the country,” he added.  

The service will be made available first for Indian destinations, and later for flights to Australia, China, Japan, the Middle East and some European cities.                                                      

Transport and Civil Aviation Minister Arjuna Ranatunga said Palaly airport was developed into Jaffna International Airport in a very short period of time.

“We were able to overcome the challenge successfully due to the sincere assistance we received from all institutes and stakeholders contributed to the development,” he said.

The minister said that in addition to Colombo and Jaffna international airports, three more airports in Sri Lanka will be upgraded to international airports, such as Ratmalana and Batticaloa.

“The opening of Jaffna airport for regional scheduled commercial passenger operations will undoubtedly enhance the quality of life of people in the area, with improved connectivity and accessibility that the airport brings to the region. It would also help reduce the current congestion at Bandaranaike International Airport and also eliminate the difficulties of the people in the north have in coming to Colombo Airport,” said H. M. C.Nimalsiri, director general of civil aviation.