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Letter bomb explodes at France office of IMF, injuring 1

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Posted at 8:32 AM, Mar 16, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-16 09:01:59-04

A letter bomb exploded Thursday at the French office of the International Monetary Fund, lightly injuring one person, according to Paris police.

Staff from the IMF office were evacuated and armed military officers and police guarded the area, in a chic district of western Paris. The World Bank office in France is in the same compound.

It is unclear who sent the homemade explosive, which was like a "big firecracker" and sent by regular mail, said Paris police chief Michel Cadot. He said the IMF office had received threatening phone calls in recent days but they were not necessarily linked to Thursday's incident.

IMF director Christine Lagarde, who is French, said in a statement that she was informed about the explosion while on a trip to Germany. "I condemn this cowardly act of violence and reaffirm the IMF's resolve to continue our work in line with our mandate," she said.

The secretary who opened the letter was injured by shrapnel in the face and hurt in the eardrum because of a "rather violent noise," the police chief said.

Police searched all four floors of the building, Cadot said. No one else was injured and only light damages were incurred.

Thursday's incident came a day after a package arrived at the German Finance Ministry containing low-grade explosives, like those used in firecrackers. In the German incident, mailroom employees quickly identified the package as suspicious and called in experts, who destroyed it with a controlled explosion.

Police, meanwhile, also confirmed a  shooting at high school in southern French town of Grasse. The French government has sent out an alert warning of an attack at the Alexis de Tocqueville high school in the southern French town of Grasse after local police reported that shots have been fired.

The alert came in a system implemented by the government after the deadly November 2015 attacks in Paris.

Police say they are still trying to confirm if there are any casualties in the shooting in the town, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the southern city of Nice.

The shooting at the high school comes as France remains in a state of emergency following deadly attacks in Paris in 2015 and an attack last year in Nice.

France remains in a state of emergency after a string of deadly Islamic extremist attacks over the past two years.