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Bern bomb alert operation ends with one arrest

Heavily armed police used sniffer dogs to search the Church of the Holy Spirit, right by the train station. Keystone

A young Afghan man threatened to detonate a bomb on Friday afternoon in the Swiss capital’s Church of the Holy Spirit, prompting a five-hour police operation that disrupted traffic around Bern’s main train station, according to a police spokeswoman. 

This content was published on March 2, 2018 - 21:06
swissinfo.ch and agencies

Speaking after the police operation ended, she said Bern cantonal police had received a bomb alert early in the afternoon saying that a man was behaving strangely in the church. 

When they arrived, police found suspicious objects on the 21-year-old man inside. The church was evacuated and the young man was detained for “further clarifications”, according to a police statement in the evening. 

It further said two objects were neutralized, namely two components linked by cable that the man was carrying on his person. They have been taken for analysis, which police said would take time. 

The area around the church, which sits right next to Bern train station’s main entrance, was sealed off for hours for security reasons. Traffic was unable to move, while certain tram and bus lines were also affected. The main entrance to the station was closed, but without disruption to rail services. 

The security cordon was lifted early evening on Friday, but the zone immediately next to the church and the church itself remain closed for purposes of the investigation. Police cannot yet say whether the objects found on the young man in the church presented a real danger to the public or not. 

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