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France to Punish Police for Losing “Bomb” During Exercise

December 14, 2004  | 

Police officers in France will be disciplined for planting plastic explosives in an airline passenger’s luggage as part of a K-9 bomb-sniffing exercise and then losing track of the bag.

France’s top cop, Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin, called the incident “totally reprehensible and scandalous” and said all those involved would be punished.

Police have put a stop to the practice of placing explosives in unsuspecting travelers’ bags, something they admit to doing as a routine training exercise for several years. The idea was that a scenario carried out in a real airport setting was the best training.

Two officers put a small block of explosives the size of a cell phone into the side pocket of a navy blue suitcase that was traveling along a conveyor belt at Charles de Gaulle International Airport in Paris. One K-9 successfully found the explosives in the bag. But the officers involved in the exercise lost track of the luggage when they went to look for a second K-9 to take part in the training.

Although police say the explosives pose no immediate danger because they are not fitted with a detonator, French aviation officials issued a global alert to airports to watch for the bag.

Despite a search by authorities at major airports in Los Angeles, New York, and elsewhere, neither the explosives nor the suitcase have been found.

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