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Batumi shopping centers evacuated amid bomb threats

by Abbey Fenbert January 22, 2024 12:52 AM 2 min read
High-rise buildings and hotels along the Black Sea promenade in Batumi, Georgia, June 24, 2023.(Sebastian Kahnert/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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Four major shopping centers in the Georgian city of Batumi were evacuated on Jan. 21 amid reports of possible explosives on the premises, according to local media outlet Interpress News.

Batumi is Georgia's second-largest city, located on the Black Sea coast about 20 kilometers north of the Turkish border.

Authorities evacuated shoppers at Grand Mall, Metro City, Batumi Mall, and Plaza. The official reason for the evacuation was not disclosed, but an employee of Grand Mall told Interpress News that there were rumors of mines planted in the building.

"A few minutes ago, a security employee of the administration came and strictly warned us to leave the building immediately. We were not told the reason. Before that, we heard a noise in one of the shops," the employee said.

"We thought there was a theft, we can't tell you, we don't know the details, they are looking for a mine or what. According to one of the versions that spread on the social network, this is probably it."

The evacuations come a day after Batumi Airport suspended operations due to threats of explosive devices.

At around 5 p.m. local time on Jan. 20, airport officials received a bomb threat and initiated evacuation procedures. A team of snappers and bomb-sniffing dogs were called in, but no explosives were found. The airport resumed operations.

The media outlet News Georgia reported that multiple anonymous Telegram accounts disseminated terrorist threats against Batumi ahead of the evacuations. Some of the threats targeted Muslims, while others were reportedly aimed at Georgia for "disliking Russia."

Russian troops currently occupy two territories within Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  Moscow gained full control of the regions when it invaded Georgia in 2008.

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