Email bomb threats sent to schools and kindergartens in the three Baltic countries this week led to the cancellation of classes across the region.
Lithuanian police chief Renatas Pozela said “a coordinated mass attack” that began late Thursday involved hundreds of emails sent from a server inside the European Union. The majority of the messages were in Russian and some had political content, Pozela said.
In Estonia, a wave of threatening spam emails began late Wednesday. As a result, most schools in Tartu, the country’s second largest city, were closed on Thursday.
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Although hundreds of children in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were told not to come to school because of bomb threats, Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite said there appeared to be no danger.
“These false reports are intended to cause panic,” Bilotaite said, stressing “there is no reason to panic.”
Aurelija Vernickaite, a spokeswoman for the Lithuanian security service, said the messages that appeared in Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia “probably … were carried out at the initiative of hostile states”.
They aimed to “disrupt and destabilize the work of institutions and increase mistrust,” he told the Baltic News Service, the region’s main news agency.
“As geopolitical tensions rise, Lithuania and the other Baltic states are constant targets of intelligence and cyber-attacks by hostile states,” Wernikait said. The Baltic states are among the most vocal European critics of Russia and President Vladimir Putin.
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Schools in Lithuania received 750 emails on Friday alone and more are coming, authorities said.
Law enforcement authorities in Latvia described the emails as a low-level threat and targeted criminal action aimed at destabilizing society and the work of authorities. Schools and kindergartens were asked to remain open, but some of them chose to suspend classes for several days as a precaution, Baltic News Service reported.
Latvian authorities believe the sender of the email threats was the same person, had been active for about a year and had sent similar threatening letters to various organizations, the news agency reported.
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Latvian and Estonian authorities said they were in contact. Latvian investigators are working with the United States and Poland, where similar hostile activities were reported earlier, BNS reported.