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French police evacuate 200 in Lille over car with gas cylinders

French police have evacuated 200 Lille residents after five gas cylinders were found in a car September 23, 2017 sparking terrorism fears. — Reuters pic
French police have evacuated 200 Lille residents after five gas cylinders were found in a car September 23, 2017 sparking terrorism fears. — Reuters pic

LILLE, Sept 24 — Nearly 200 residents of a wealthy suburb of the northern French city of Lille were evacuated last night after five gas cylinders were found in a car, police said, while playing down the likelihood of it being terrorist-related.

"There is a good chance that it is something fairly innocuous," a police source said.

A resident raised the alarm at around 10:30 pm and the bomb squad was on site in the suburb of Lambersart as a precaution.

At the end of August, a concert in the Dutch city of Rotterdam was cancelled at the last moment after a tip-off from Spanish police. The driver of a van carrying several gas cylinders near the venue was arrested but later released.

In June, a major bomb squad operation was launched after a vehicle with a dozen bottles of butane hidden under a tarpaulin was discovered in the Isere department of eastern France. It turned out that the driver was stealing from his employer, a freight company.

France has been under a state of emergency since Islamic State jihadists struck in Paris in November 2015, killing 130 people.

Since that large-scale attack and last year's Nice truck attack that killed 86, France has suffered a string of smaller assaults mainly targeting security forces. — AFP

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