JOHN LEICESTER, Associated Press Writer 01/14/03
PARIS – Police evacuated the Sacre Coeur basilica on Tuesday after an explosive device – but no detonator – was found inside, police said.
The device, apparently homemade, consisted of bottles of cooking gas and gasoline taped together and concealed in a trash bag and a shopping bag, police said.
Bomb disposal experts were sent to the landmark church overlooking Paris, and the device was taken to a police laboratory for analysis. Anti-terrorist police were leading the investigation.
The incident comes amid heightened vigilance in France and elsewhere in Europe against feared terrorist attacks.
Police and judicial officials said the device was made from four small canisters of cooking gas, four bottles of gasoline and another four of a separate liquid chemical.
Europe-1 radio reported that a tourist found a black plastic bag containing the device. An official at the church confirmed the basilica was evacuated after what she described as a “suspect package” was found Tuesday morning.
Sacre Coeur, which sits atop Montmartre hill and dominates Paris with its distinctive white dome and towers, is one of the most visited tourist sites in all of France, drawing 8 million visitors last year.