Lille on lockdown after car filled with gas cylinders and a suitcase is spotted near French city’s military hospital
- Black Citroen Picasso with broken windows found parked near a military hospital
- Police closed off central Lille after three canisters, cables and case found in car
- Nearby apartments evacuated and residents on ground floors taken to safety
- Centre of city locked down until bomb experts found equipment was harmless
Lille was on Lockdown today after a car with a damaged back window and gas canisters was found near a military hospital in the French city.
A vehicle containing three cylinders, a suitcase and cables was reported to emergency services at around 11.30am this afternoon.
The black Citroen Picasso with broken windows was found parked near a military hospital, French newspaper La Voix du Nord reported.
A large area in the centre of the city between the Morrison Square, Bethune Road and Place de la Republique had to be cordoned of by police for fears the canisters may explode.
Three gas canisters were found in the black Citroen Picasso (above) that was found with broken windows near a military hospital in Lille today
Police could be seen in the in Rue de l’Hôpital-Militaire after a black Citroen Picasso with gas canisters inside was found today
Police said the suspicious vehicle contained what appeared to be a bag of gas bottles and a suitcase outside a bar called L’Idiot (The Idiot), which is near the hospital.
Bomb disposal experts were at the scene while residents were advised to avoid the area.
The spot where the car was found on Rue de l’Hôpital-Militaire is just a few hundred yards from Place Rihour where a Christmas Market is held from Monday to Sunday.
Two small canisters and a larger one were taken out of the black Citroen by bomb experts as part of the security check, police said.
Nearby apartments were evacuated and residents on the ground floor were taken to safety, local media reported.
A large area around the Rue de l’Hôpital-Militaire in the centre of Lille was also evacuated.
Police (above at the scene) said the suspicious vehicle contained what appeared to be a bag and of gas bottle outside a bar called L’Idiot
Crowds gathered at the edge of the police cordon after a car containing battery cables, construction equipment and a suitcase was discovered
Students of the ECG business school had to leave the building, according to Grand Lille TV.
Police later tweeted just before 2pm local time that their security operation was over, around three hours after the emergency was first declared.
Battery cables, construction equipment and a suitcase containing Hi-Fi cables were neutralised by police, local media report.
It is thought the owner of the vehicle had innocently left the canisters and cables in the back of his car.
He was reportedly unaware that keeping this kind of equipment in the back of a vehicle could cause alarm in a country on high alert for potential terror attacks.
Lille Christmas market in Place Rihour (pictured in a stock image) was just a few hundred yards from where the suspicious car was found today
At the start of the bomb scare a police officer saw the cables and gas canister through the broken rear windows and asked a chef at the bar, L’Idiot, if it belonged to anyone connected to the establishment.
He was told the owner was not known to staff and an hour later the premises was evacuated, according to local media reports.
Police are said to be questioning the unnamed car owner over why he left the vehicle in the location it was discovered.
In July Lille suffered another bomb scare earlier this year when the courthouse in the city was evacuated after an anonymous threat was called in.
A month earlier the media centre at Stade Pierre Mauroy football stadium in the city where Lille play their home games, had to be evacuated before Italy were due to play the Republic of Ireland.
The suspicious package that was found by found the authorities turned out to be an innocent bag.