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Schools across Ontario close in response to bomb threats; connection unclear

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Schools across Ontario have responded to multiple bomb threats over the last couple of days, prompting evacuations and investigations by local police.

The threats, where identified, involved both religious and non-religious schools, including English and French Catholic boards, and at least one Jewish school.

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) said in a news release Wednesday that it is "investigating multiple bomb threats across parts of northern and eastern Ontario, with the threats targeting multiple schools under multiple school boards and other facilities, demanding payment."

The OPP said on X, formerly Twitter, that it has "found no devices and no indication this is anything beyond a threat, but the safety and security of everyone, including students, is a top priority."

"The investigation is ongoing. Any questions about the schools should be directed to the schools or school boards," the statement adds.

All four school boards serving the Timmins area in northern Ontario, as well as communities surrounding the city, closed for the day at the advice of police.

Three schools in the Greater Toronto Area also received bomb threats Wednesday afternoon, which led to their evacuations. Police later said that the three schools were "swept and cleared" with no bombs located.

A high school in Burlington, Ont., near Hamilton also evacuated in response to a threat.

A Toronto police spokesperson said the service is aware of the other threats against schools in Ontario.

"At this point, it's too soon to say if the incidents are connected, but we are investigating," police said.

In eastern Ontario, rural French Catholic schools evacuated after receiving a bomb threat.

And the previous day, the Ottawa Jewish Community School said it received an anonymous bomb threat, prompting an investigation by the Ottawa Police Service.

The police service said it conducted an on-scene investigation and determined there was no threat to the school or the neighbouring Soloway Jewish Community Centre.

It is unclear if the incident is related to the other threats. But the head of the school said it is a "tragic reminder that the Jewish community must remain vigilant at a time of increased antisemitism in not only the Middle East, but also here in Canada and around the world."

It also comes as Ottawa Police Chief Eric Stubbs addressed, in a statement Wednesday, reports of several "concerning" hate-motivated criminal incidents targeting Jewish and Muslim community members in the last number of weeks.

An ongoing war between Israel and Hamas has lasted more than three weeks and left thousands dead and injured. Six Canadians, as well as another with "deep ties" to Canada, have died in the conflict, Global Affairs Canada said in its latest update Wednesday, while another two are missing.

Over the past few weeks, both Muslim and Jewish organizations across the country have expressed concern about the looming risk of hate crimes as a result of the war, leading to heightened security at some synagogues, mosques, schools and community centres.

With files from CTVNorthernOntario.ca Videojournalist Lydia Chubak, CTVNorthernOntario.ca Lead Digital Content Specialist Chelsea Papineau, CP24 Web Content Writer Bryann Aguilar, CTV News Ottawa Digital Multi-Skilled Journalist William Eltherington, CTV News Ottawa Digital Multi-Skilled Journalist Ted Raymond and CTVNews.ca Writer Megan DeLaire 

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