Paris IMF Letter Bomb Injures One Employee

A letter bomb exploded Thursday at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) office in Paris, injuring the female employee who opened it in the face and arms, police said.

The letter, which had arrived by mail, exploded as it was opened by a secretary at the institution’s office in an upscale part of Paris.

The secretary, whose hearing was also affected, was receiving treatment but her injuries were not life-threatening, Paris police chief Michel Cadot told reporters. The blast caused little damage to the office.

The letter was intended for the IMF’s European representative, according to police. Jeffrey Franks, a 24-year veteran of the fund, has been director of the IMF’s Europe office since March 2015, according to its website.

Paris anti-terrorism prosecutors opened an investigation.

The explosion was caused by a homemade device, said Cadot. It is unclear who sent the letter.

“It was something that was fairly homemade,” he added.

Cadot said there had been some recent telephone threats but it was not clear if these were linked to the incident at the IMF’s offices.

IMF director Christine Lagarde condemned the “cowardly act of violence” against IMF staff.

“I … reaffirm the IMF’s resolve to continue our work in line with our mandate. We are working closely with the French authorities to investigate this incident and ensure the safety of our staff,” she said.

Separately, a teenage student opened fire on Thursday at a high school in southeastern France injuring three people, including the headmaster, the interior ministry said.

Interior ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet said three people had been injured, and five other people were in shock after the teenager opened fire with the rifle in a high school in the town of Grasse.

The youth, who was also carrying two handguns and two grenades, was arrested at the school. Checks were underway to establish whether there was a second assailant.

“The first investigations suggest he had consulted American-style mass killings’ videos,” the spokesman said.

France has some of the strictest gun laws in the world.

French citizens are banned from owning automatic weapons, while many other guns require government authorization and a medical exam, along with a permit from a hunting or sport shooting federation.

A police source said the youth arrested did not seem to be known to police.

France, which is in the middle of a presidential campaign ahead of elections in six weeks time, has been hit by attacks by Islamist groups in the last few years that have killed scores of people and the country is still in a state of emergency with army units patrolling the streets of Paris.

A militant Greek group, Conspiracy of Fire Cells, claimed responsibility for a parcel bomb mailed to German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble on Wednesday, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Paris bomb.

The IMF is one of three organizations, along with the European Commission and the European Central Bank (ECB), which bailed out the Greek government after it came close to defaulting on its debts.

President Francois Hollande said French authorities would do all they could to find those responsible.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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