The homemade apparatus was discovered around midnight hidden in a lavatory cabinet behind a mirror where it was apparently placed during the approximately 11-hour flight to Paris from the island of Mauritius, said the airline's CEO, Frederic Gagey.

He said the airline has had heightened security checks around the world since the November 13 attacks that left 130 people dead in Paris.

With France in a state of emergency since the Paris attacks and the United States on high alert since the attack in San Bernardino, California, that left 14 dead, hoaxes present a particular conundrum for security officials, who must choose between feeding mass fear and keeping the public in potential danger.

On Tuesday, the two biggest school systems in the US New York City and Los Angeles received threats of a large-scale jihadi attack.

LA reacted by shutting down the entire district, while New York dismissed the warning as an amateurish hoax and held classes.

Air France has been the target of three prior hoaxes, all in the United States, Gagey said. The fourth came on board the flight from Mauritius, a popular winter vacation spot for French tourists.

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