(CMC) — Suriname has launched an investigation into a possible security situation after several threats were made to carry out mass killings at schools and other institutions on the Dutch-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country.
Vice President Ashwin Adhin told a news conference, Friday, that several schools would remain closed and that President Desi Bouterse, several cabinet ministers and heads of various security agencies, such as the Suriname Police Force and the Bureau for National Security, had met in an emergency meeting.
The authorities said that they were not treating the threats which were posted on the social media platform, Facebook, as a hoax, and that they were doubling up security around schools.
Special units, such as the Counter Terrorism Unit, have also been deployed.
According to the authorities, someone identifying himself as ‘Mohammed Ahmed Al-Mehdi’ had threatened to kill 50 people, if two brothers who have been detained for several months and charged with violation of the country’s anti-terrorism laws, were not immediately released.
The two suspects, who are nationals from the Netherlands, were arrested last year. During the court hearings on Monday, prosecutors argued that the suspects were recruiting individuals to join ISIS in Syria.
One of the brothers had already made preparations to move to Syria with his family. A request for the release of one of the suspects was rejected by the judge last Monday.
“Listen to me Suriname and listen clearly. This is a message from ISIS. Free our brothers. We will kill 50 peoples from Anton de Kom University, Santa Boma and Lyceum 1. If you do not take it seriously, we will kill more. You have until 9:00am to response or else you will have to face the consequences. Do not let Allah judge you”, the alleged IS-representative posted on Facebook.
Meanwhile, the Facebook account of ‘Mohammed Ahmed Al-Mehdi’ has been removed.
The Facebook posting mentioned a high school, the university and a local prison as potential targets.
After the ‘threat’ went viral late Thursday, the management of a high school here released a statement calling for students to stay home on Friday.
Adhin told reporters that although the threat could be a hoax, the matter is being considered very seriously by the government.
He said the bomb squad was sent to the schools mentioned in the Facebook posting and director of the Bureau for National Security, Daniella Veira, said that this issue is currently being addressed as a purely Surinamese affair.
“Let us keep calm and ensure that Suriname is and remains safe,” she said.
In a statement, the government said that the situation is under control and that it has taken all necessary measures to prevent any harm to citizens.
“The government guarantees safety at and around schools and other important objects. The educational process therefore does not have to be interrupted “.
Furthermore, the security forces are urging members of the public to provide any information which they may have to the police and the authorities dismissed as false, reports of shots being fired near a high school.