Bomb threats prompt holiday safety warning

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 October, 2004, 12:00am

Vacationers are told to be on the alert after two scares in Beijing this week

Holidaymakers were yesterday warned by the Ministry of Public Security to be careful of their safety during the week-long National Day holiday, after at least two bomb scares in Beijing.

A ministry spokesman was quoted by Xinhua as saying local officials must also remain vigilant. 'We must stay on guard and ensure all illegal activities are severely punished,' the spokesman said.

Yesterday morning, a bomb threat in central Beijing led police to evacuate guests from the Holiday Inn Lido hotel and workers from two neighbouring office blocks.

The hotel received a bomb threat by telephone at about 11am, staff said. Police rushed to the hotel, located in a huge commercial and residential complex that accommodates many expatriates and multinational companies, and cordoned off the area for two hours.

'They conducted a thorough examination and found nothing,' one hotel employee said. 'Everything returned to normal at about 2pm.'

However, a hotel public relations employee played down the scare and said it was a routine drill ahead of the holiday. 'We were just co-operating with the police who want to make sure everything goes smoothly,' the employee said.

Yesterday's bomb scare came after a similar incident on Tuesday in which the Chongwen district police station received a phone call from an unidentified man who claimed to have placed three bombs inside the Chinese Soccer Association's headquarters.

The Beijing News reported that police searched the building for two hours but found nothing.

Authorities started promoting extended public holidays during the mid-1990s as a way to encourage public spending. Since then, mainlanders now enjoy week-long breaks from work around National Day, Labour Day and the Lunar New Year.

Millions of holidaymakers are expected to put pressure on the country's already strained transport system.

This year, several public activities have been planned in the capital - including photo exhibitions and cultural shows in public parks - but no military parade will be held.

The celebrations were apparently scaled down after the central government launched a frugality drive to avoid public criticism.