Louvre in Paris evacuates staff and visitors after receiving written threat

Thousands of visitors have been evacuated from the Louvre in Paris after museum staff received a written threat.

The warning on Saturday came as France is on its highest alert for terrorist attacks after the killing of a teacher by a suspected radical Islamist in the north of the country on Friday.

The museum said it would remain closed all afternoon “for security reasons” and that police and staff were carrying out “verifications” of the buildings after an estimated 15,000 people were instructed to leave.

Louvre officials said they had received a written message on Saturday morning “stating there is a risk to the museum and its visitors”. They said it had “chosen to evacuate and close for the day in order to carry out essential checks”, adding that those who had booked tickets to visit will be reimbursed.

Hours after the Louvre closure, the Château de Versailles was also evacuated after a bomb threat.

As many as 7,000 troops are being deployed across the country as the terror threat was raised this weekend. Dominique Bernard, 57, a French literature teacher, was stabbed to death in the courtyard of the Gambetta-Carnot secondary school in Arras on Friday morning. Three other members of staff were injured, two of them critically. Bernard, a father of three, had taught at the school since the 1980s.

A 20-year-old former pupil named as Mohammed M, who was born in Russia’s mainly Muslim North Caucusus, was arrested and is being questioned by anti-terrorist police. He had been put on France’s Fiche S security list as a suspected radical Islamist and was under close surveillance, including phone taps. Police had stopped and searched him on Thursday, but found no reason to detain him.

The Louvre, the largest museum in the world and home to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo statue and many other internationally recognised masterpieces, has up to 40,000 visitors a day.