Palace housing Austrian president's office cleared after bomb threat

VIENNA (Reuters) – Part of the former imperial palace in Vienna housing Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen’s office has been evacuated after a bomb threat and the president has been taken to safety, spokesmen for the police and the presidency said on Wednesday.

The threat was made by email against the Hofburg, a sprawling palace complex that includes reception rooms, the headquarters of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and temporarily the debating chamber of Austria’s lower house of parliament.

“A threat was made by email … against the Hofburg itself,” a police spokesman said. “Evacuation measures were carried out and the area has been cleared.”

Van der Bellen, a former leader of the left-wing Greens whose role is largely ceremonial, had been evacuated, a spokesman for his office confirmed, though he added that he did not know details of the threat or its target.

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The part of the complex temporarily occupied by parliament while its main building nearby is being renovated has not been evacuated, a parliament spokesman said. That area is at the opposite end of the palace.

The offices of the head of Austria’s government, conservative Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, are across a small square from Van der Bellen’s but are not part of the Hofburg. Television footage showed police sealing off that square.

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