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Fake explosives for US exercise cause scare at Paris airport

By JOHN VANDIVER | STARS AND STRIPES Published: January 29, 2016

STUTTGART, Germany — Fake explosives to be used for an Africa Command training exercise in Tunisia caused a brief panic in Paris Thursday when workers aboard a commercial shipping aircraft discovered the contents of the mysterious package during a stop at Charles de Gaulle Airport.

Federal Express employees discovered the package, which had accidentally opened, during a layover at one of Europe’s busiest airports. Workers fled the area as a bomb squad was called to the scene, according to numerous media reports.

AFRICOM confirmed the package was for a training exercise in Tunisia, a close U.S. partner in counterterrorism efforts on the Continent.

The “inert training aids that were the subject of yesterday’s incident at Charles De Gaulle Airport are ones that are used for routine military training,” Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Falvo, an AFRICOM spokesman, said in an email. “The situation was resolved and the packages are headed to their final destination of Tunisia.”

The training material was found after packages were damaged at the airport as the workers broke down the pallet into smaller shipments, said Kymberley G. Jurado , a U.S. Army Africa spokeswoman. “Several similar packages were processed and shipped to Tunisia with no issue.”

The Agence France-Presse news agency, citing an airport security source, said such shipments are permitted but not commonplace.

“This type of delivery is not common, but sometimes takes place. This is just the first time that a package has been opened,” the official told AFP.

The incident comes nearly three months after Paris came under siege in a terrorist attack that killed 130 people.

vandiver.john@stripes.com

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