Cyprus pledges to protect schools after bomb attack

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — Cyprus’ education minister pledged on Thursday to protect the country’s teachers and schools from “bullying” following an overnight bomb attack against a primary school that is suspected to be the work of people opposed to compulsory mask-wearing at school.

Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou said in a statement that he will work with law enforcement authorities to prevent similar “common criminal acts” aiming to “intimidate” teachers and schoolchildren alike.

The makeshift explosive device that went off in the early hours of Thursday shattered window panes at the school and at an adjacent church. A second explosive device found at the school’s main entrance apparently failed to go off.

Speaking on the Cypriot state broadcaster, primary school teachers’ union boss Myria Vassiliou urged the public to stand by the side of teachers, insisting that “those who aim to stoke tensions will no longer be tolerated.”

A small, but vocal group of parents have reacted angrily to a health ministry order enacted this week that mandates mask-wearing for all schoolchildren aged 6 and above, as well as weekly coronavirus testing. The parents say the order infringes on their kids’ freedoms.

Cyprus has in recent weeks seen its daily COVID-19 infection rate hover at above 0.5%. The emergence of the omicron variant also prompted authorities on Thursday to mandate PCR tests for all arriving passengers as of next week.

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