A former military officer is concerned that Police personnel who responded to the bomb threat at the Social Security Scheme office were not properly dressed to deal with what could have been a dangerous situation on Monday morning.
Retired Captain George Wehner, who served in the Antigua and Barbuda Defence Force for several decades, says he was disappointed to observe that the officers were not wearing any protective gear.
Nevertheless, they swept the building, and Wehner commended them for their bravery and dedication to duty, despite not being equipped with the proper gear and tools.
The former soldier is calling on the Minister with responsibility for the Police, Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin, to ensure that the men and women of the Force – as well as other law-enforcement agencies – have the proper suits and equipment to effectively do their jobs.
Wehner says that Government should also ensure that the insurance policies covering the Police are paid up for events such as these, since officers have complained that they are uninsured.
Meanwhile,some residents are already expressing skepticism about the bomb scare.
“If the Police really believed that there was a credible bomb threat, why have they positioned not one, but three of their vehicles in such close proximity to a possible bomb blast?” one person asked at the time of the sweep.
“It is either gross incompetence, pure carelessness, outright stupidity or, more likely, they knew they had nothing to be alarmed about. They knew there was no bomb,” he said.
The man, who wishes to remain anonymous, says that Prime Minister Gaston Browne “will proclaim in his next Saturday-afternoon tirade against the Opposition that they orchestrated or were responsible for this act of domestic terrorism.”
Browne has already posted photos of the incident on his Facebook page and linked the incident to the Progressive Labour Movement (PLM) and the United Progressive Party.
“Don’t bother with him!” says a woman who experienced the turbulent political days between 1968 and 1976. “Is Labour Party-self make the call about bomb threat!” she says vehemently.
“They’re trying to stir up their people against the Opposition, because they know they’re losing support. But this is not those days,” she tells REAL News. “This is a new day and the people can see – and they are seeing right through Gaston Browne.”
Another person is reminding the Labour Party of an incident in which the nephew of a prominent supporter made a bomb threat at the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) shortly before flying out of the country.
That hoax took place just ahead of the 2004 elections.