PARIS — A teenage boy was detained on Monday as part of an investigation into a hoax hostage alert that prompted a major police response at a church in central Paris, officials said. In a rare move, France’s interior minister said the government would seek financial compensation from the perpetrators.
The boy had just turned 16, prosecutors’ spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre told The Associated Press, identifying the suspect only by his first name, Dylan. But she couldn’t give further details about the boy linked to Saturday’s hoax.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that the French government would seek financial compensation against the “perpetrators of these acts” for wasting security services’ time and money, and scaring the public unnecessarily.
Police dispatched a helicopter and barricaded the area around the Saint-Leu church in the Les Halles neighborhood Saturday afternoon, and activated a special app-based public alert system created after deadly attacks in Paris last year. The Interior Ministry later said it was a false alarm.
“There is no reason that taxpayers should be liable to an unnecessary expenditure of public funds,” Cazeneuve said, adding that those responsible must be punished given the current “very high terrorist threat.”
Obs magazine reported that it had reached two people who boasted online of staging the hoax in a case of “swatting,” where hoaxers make anonymous threats to trigger a response from police and SWAT teams.
France has suffered a spate of deadly attacks in recent months by Islamic extremists, including the July 14 truck attack in Nice that left 86 dead and the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.