Mont-Saint-Michel, France.- French authorities evacuated tourists from the Mont-Saint-Michel abbey and searched houses Sunday on the famed outcropping in the English Channel for a visitor who apparently threatened to attack security services.
The exceptional evacuation of one of France’s most-visited tourist sites came after a string of sporadic attacks around France in recent years targeting police, some of them fatal.
The site reopened Sunday afternoon and a trickle of tourists started returning to the Mont across a promontory that connects it to the mainland. Several hours of searching failed to turn up the suspect, and police expanded their search to neighboring towns, according to the national gendarme service.
Details of Sunday’s threat were unclear, but the gendarme service said authorities ordered the evacuation as a precaution.
During the police operation, an Associated Press reporter at the scene saw at least three police helicopters circling over the peninsula, notably famous for being isolated by high tides. The hilltop abbey, whose origins date to the 10th century, and surrounding sites attract more than 2 million visitors every year.
Police officers patrolled the steep cobblestone paths leading up to the abbey, packed with restaurants and souvenir shops — and normally packed with tourists and pilgrims 365 days a year.