A shopping mall on the outskirts of Beijing was sealed off for almost seven hours on Thursday after a department store received a bomb threat on the last day of the National People’s Congress.
The Carrefour branch in Longde Square, Changping district, received an e-mail before 9am saying explosives had been placed inside the store and would be detonated if a 50,000 yuan (HK$63,000) ransom was not paid, Changping police said.
Employees and customers in the 330,000-square-metre shopping complex were evacuated after police arrived after 9am, workers said.
Police sealed off the side of the mall where Carrefour’s entrance is located. Businesses on other sides were asked to also close and the entrance to the mall was locked.
“At first we were told it was a firemen’s inspection; then, we were told the mall had an electrical problem,” said a man who worked in a restaurant on the fifth floor.
The man was kept waiting outside the mall for hours with more than 100 other employees while a dozen police cars, a fire truck and special police cars arrived. A police dog squad was seen entering Carrefour.
“I doubt you would call in a special police unit to deal with an electrical problem,” he said.
A woman who worked at another restaurant said “we were just asked to wait outside, with no explanation”. “But there was a rumour that it was a bomb alert,” she said.
Other workers waiting outside said they had heard the same rumour but did not feel particularly scared.
Police took down their cordon at about 4pm, allowing business to resume in the mall. Many customers who had been waiting to enter the department store flocked inside.
An official from the Changping district government propaganda department and a policeman told reporters that no evidence of explosives had been found during the search. Police were still investigating the case and declined to give further details about the e-mail threat.