Madrid rail station evacuated over false alert

People enter Nuevos Ministerios station as a policeman watches in Madrid Jan 8, 2015. A suspicious package at Madrid's Nuevos Ministerios train station did not contain anything dangerous, a Madrid government official and police said on Thursday. -- P
People enter Nuevos Ministerios station as a policeman watches in Madrid Jan 8, 2015. A suspicious package at Madrid's Nuevos Ministerios train station did not contain anything dangerous, a Madrid government official and police said on Thursday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (AFP) - Police evacuated a busy metro and commuter railway station in Madrid on Thursday during the evening rush hour after a suspicious package was found that was later determined not to be dangerous, a police spokeswoman said.

The Nuevos Ministerios station, which serves three lines of Madrid's metro system as well as six regional commuter railway lines, was closed just before 6pm (1am on Friday Singapore time) after the package was located at one of its entrances, the spokeswoman said.

The station reopened about an hour later after a police bomb squad concluded that the package was not dangerous.

"It was a false alarm. There was nothing inside the box which could explode," the spokeswoman said.

Spain raised its anti-terrorist security level a notch on Wednesday, hours after an attack on the offices of French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris that left 12 dead.

On Wednesday, police ordered the evacuation of 300 staff at the offices of the El Pais daily after a man delivered a suspect package around two hours after the Paris attack.

Security guards became suspicious because the man refused to take the package to a rear entrance and insisted on leaving it at the main entrance.

But staff were allowed back into the building about two hours later after police determined the package was not dangerous.

Last week, Madrid's Atocha station, the scene of the worst terror attack in Spanish history, was evacuated after a false alert when a man threatened to blow himself up.

Police said a man claiming to be carrying a bomb in his backpack was arrested, but nothing was found.

Islamic militants killed 191 people and injured nearly 2,000 in a series of coordinated backpack bomb attacks on trains travelling to the station on March 11, 2004, that became known as the 11-M attacks.