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May 26, 2021

Bomb Threat at Government Offices in the City

Services were interrupted for about four hours today at the Belize Tax Service and Treasury Departments following separate bomb threats being made in Belize City this morning. News Five’s Duane Moody was on the ground and files this report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

As the work day began at the Treasury Department on Coney Drive and the Charles Bartlett Hyde Building on Mahogany Street, which houses the Belize Tax Service and the Elections and Boundaries Departments, calls were made to these respective government departments claiming bombs had been planted at these offices. Without much panic, hundreds of employees made their way out of the building a onto the streets and the area cordoned off by police.


Michelle Longsworth

Michelle Longsworth, Director General, Belize Tax Service

“About 8:40, I was informed by the secretary that she received a call from an unknown number because it did not display a number on the secretary’s desk. She said that they said that there is a bomb on the compound in a black vehicle. It was placed there yesterday and it would be detonated today. We could not take the threat idly so we called the police. We didn’t get a response, so we called 911 and from there they said they would take it and called the B.D.F.  Immediately we had all our staff evacuate for their own safety because we can’t just say well it is not so.”


The staff from all departments was sent home and informed to report back to work at one p.m. – that gave bomb expert, Captain Emerson McKoy and his team from the Belize Defence Force adequate time to comb both facilities for the suspect explosive devices that were reportedly planted.


Captain Emerson McKoy, Bomb Expert

“Nothing was found today, but with all bomb threats, we need to take everything serious because we don’t know if anybody is running a hoax or if somebody is damn serious about what they want to achieve. So technically that is what we did. We did a search of the lower flat of the building and the parking lot and the upper stairwell of the building as well.”


In the case of the Treasury Department, the B.D.F. team searched the building, but for the complex building, the device was purportedly planted in a vehicle.


Captain Emerson McKoy

“We came in, did a static search. Particular this location was with respect to a suspected explosive device on a mobile, so we searched the vehicles in the parking lot, however, we had some constraints. So in the future if we have call out in any government building or public office, and you have your private vehicle parked in the compound, we would recommend that you leave the key prior to dispersing from the area of interest. That would assist us and help facilitate the search so it can be easier and more seamless wherever we come out.”


Just before eleven o’clock, two hours after the calls were made, the all-clear was given. The simultaneous threats are suspicious, but as Director General Michelle Longsworth of the Belize Tax Service says, it’s about the essential services that have been interrupted.


Michelle Longsworth

“We do have a business continuity plan in place that basically looks at disaster in case of hurricane, fire and that kind of thing. But it also looks at – I think we just recently updated it or in the process of updating it with the recent strike by the union to ensure that we have continuity of services. Despite what is happening, we have a responsibility to ensure that the services continue to our taxpayers. Today is not so difficult for us because it is between tax collection days so you find that the amount of taxpayers that would be coming in is very minimal. That does not mean that we do not have other services that have been interrupted.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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