Bomb threats cause chaos at train station
On April 21, three threatening telephone calls within 20 minutes warned of a bomb planted near the main train station in Žilina, a city of 87,000 located in the northern part of the country.
The first call came at 7:55 a.m., and was quickly followed by another. The railway police immediately closed down the station and stopped all traffic in its vicinity, while calling in reinforcements from the Slovak Army, Žilina municipal police and bomb disposal units.
Passengers on some trains panicked, having heard the information from Slovak Railways' employees. "When I heard them announcing that there may be a bomb on our train, my hair almost instantly turned white," said Dušan Fedoročko, a passenger on a Košice-bound intercity train. More than 20 trains were delayed and about 80 kilometers of railways searched before the chaos ended at 2 p.m. The threats proved to be a hoax as no explosives were recovered. Police are still looking for the culprits, who, if found, could face eight years in jail.
Another bomb threat
Another threat, presumed to be related, was received on April 22 at 22:00 at the Slovak capital's main train station, causing delays for 11 trains until 1 a.m. Police are still searching for the perpetrator, while Slovak Railways is assessing its financial losses from the two bomb threats.
Pension owners quarrel over the Pope
The owners of two small pensions in Starý Smokovec, a pretty tourist town nestled in the High Tatras, Slovakia's highest mountain range, both claim that Pope John Paul II spent the night in their pensions when he visited the High Tatras as a priest on a holiday in July and August 1959. The owner of the tiny Čučoriedka pension, František Vaňo, said that the Pope spent a night beneath his eaves, and as a token of remembrance, gave him a small valaška, a traditional-style axe symbolic to both Poles and Slovaks. The decorated axe is preserved at the Catholic church in the nearby village Dolný Smokovec. "We do have a valaška like that, but it is very hard to prove that it was given by the present Pope," said Štefan Mordel, the church's priest. The owner of the other pension, Anna Komárová, claimed that the Pope spent the night between the sheets at her lodge. "I'm not angry over the fact that the other owner claims that the Pope stayed in his pension," she said. "Nobody will ever take the joy of having the Pope under my roof away from me. I just dislike very much the garbage container he placed right under a sign which reminds visitors of my unusual guest."
Compiled by Andrea Lörinczová
7. May 1998 at 0:00