Geneva police OK public events despite heightened security

GENEVA -- Security officials in Geneva said Friday that public events, including a beloved December costume parade, will go ahead as planned this weekend despite heightened security measures and an ongoing hunt for suspects allegedly linked to the radical Islamic State group.

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Swiss officials announced enhanced vigilance a day earlier and said Geneva police were searching for at least four suspects allegedly linked to IS and believed to be plotting a "specific" attack in the city. Authorities have not identified the suspects.

The Geneva department of security said in a statement Friday that "the level of vigilance remains unchanged for now" and that the reinforced police deployments will be maintained. It said the public can stay informed through a mobile phone app.

The greater vigilance has meant the public, private security teams and others have been on a greater lookout for suspicious activities: At Geneva's airport, bomb squads cordoned off and suspended access to some areas to deal with two pieces of abandoned luggage.

Airport spokesman Bertrand Staempfli says no bomb was found and flights were not delayed or disrupted. Authorities located the owner of one bag found abandoned near a security checkpoint, and another bag was destroyed by bomb squads.

Staempfli said bomb alerts typically happen at least once a week at the airport, but authorities received more reports from passers-by and security teams on Friday.

Across town, the head of Geneva security met with the top official at the UN office in Geneva, one of the city's many diplomatic sites where guards carrying submachine guns have been deployed.

Michele Zaccheo, a UN spokesman in Geneva, said there was "no specific threat" targeting UN personnel, and insisted "We are taking the right kinds of precautionary measures."

Among other events, Geneva hosts a centuries-old commemoration called "Escalade" this weekend recalling a 1602 battle in which citizens repulsed Savoy invaders.

Milos Krivokapic contributed from Geneva.


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