Slovakia Embarrassed By Security Test Gone Wrong

The government of Slovakia apologized to authorities in Ireland after a security exercise didn't go as planned. In retrospect, as the Slovakian government has admitted, it probably wasn't a very good idea in the first place.

The plan on Saturday was to plant plastic explosives in the luggage of passengers at Slovakian airports without their knowledge. Authorities then would test whether Slovakian sniffer dogs could find them.

"A border police officer who works as a dog handler, placed two samples of an explosive into one bag," says Ludmila Stanova, spokeswoman for the Slovakian Interior Ministry. "The sniffer dog found one sample, after which the police officer and the dog were called off to a different matter, and the officer had forgotten to take out the second sample."

When he realized the oversight, the police officer contacted the pilot of the plane which was still on the tarmac. The pilot decided the explosives — which the Slovakians say were not dangerous because they were not attached to other bomb components — did not pose a safety risk, and the plane took off for Dublin as planned.

The Slovakians say they contacted Dublin airport, but it has emerged they sent a telex to the Dublin baggage handlers, and the message went astray. Dublin airport officials say they did not hear about the issue until Tuesday morning when the Slovakians called them.

Dublin airport officials then called in police, who surrounded the apartment of the man whose luggage contained the planted explosives. Police evacuated his neighbors and arrested him. The man eventually was released without charge when the facts were finally sorted out.

Since then the Slovakian Interior minister has apologized for the incident. The ministry issued a strongly worded statement criticizing the Irish police for unnecessarily arresting the man. It also criticized the Irish media's coverage of the incident.

The statement did, however, say that Slovakia will search for new ways to train its sniffer dogs.



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