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By Kathy Finn
NEW ORLEANS, Sept 17 (Reuters) - A bomb scare prompted authorities to evacuate Louisiana State University and place four nearby public schools under lockdown on Monday while police with sniffer dogs investigated.
A caller telephoned the threat to the East Baton Rouge Parish emergency center at 10:32 a.m. (1532 GMT) and the center relayed the information to campus police, said University spokesman Ernie Ballard.
University Chancellor William Jenkins made the decision to evacuate the campus, and LSU alerted students, faculty and staff via text message at about 11:30 a.m. (1630 GMT), Ballard said.
All campus events were canceled for the day.
"It is important for all members of the LSU community - faculty, staff and students - to remain off campus unless specifically instructed to return," the university's communications office said a public notice.
Louisiana State Police received a request for assistance from campus police shortly after the threat was made, according to State Police spokesman Sergeant Len Marie.
He could not say whether anything resembling a bomb had been found.
As word of the threat spread, public school officials placed three nearby elementary schools and one high school on lockdown, meaning no one was allowed to enter or leave, according to the East Baton Rouge Parish School System.
Public schools spokeswoman Sonya Gordon said students would be allowed to leave at their regular times, unless there was confirmation that a threat exists.
On Friday bomb threats were phoned in to the University of Texas at Austin and North Dakota State University, prompting evacuations of both campuses. Students returned to those campuses hours later after police investigated and found no bombs.
Louisiana State Police were talking to their counterparts in other areas where university bomb threats were reported last week to determine whether there were similarities, Marie said. (Additional reporting by James Kelleher; Editing by Cynthia Johnston)