Man detained in Amsterdam airport security alert

13th April 2016, Comments 0 comments

Dozens of heavily-armed military police swooped on Amsterdam's Schiphol airport, arresting one man in a four-hour security clampdown which lasted into the early hours of Wednesday.

Crowds of people were evacuated from part of one of Europe's busiest travel hubs in the late night scare which came exactly three weeks after the March 22 attacks in Brussels left 32 people dead.

"The airport has been declared safe again," military police spokesman Alfred Ellwanger told reporters.

Dutch special military police, bearing sub-machine guns and wearing balaclavas, were seen by AFP reporters patrolling the airport's main plaza while passengers anxiously watched from behind security tape.

Part of the airport was cordoned off while a helicopter hovered overhead, until the alert was lifted at around 1:30 am (2330 GMT).

It remained unclear exactly what had triggered the alarm, or who had been arrested, but Ellwanger said the bomb disposal squad had not found anything dangerous in a search of the arrested man's luggage.

The alarm had been raised after a call alerting police to a "suspicious situation" around 9:30 pm, he said.

He had no further details about the arrested man, saying more information would likely be available later Wednesday.

No flights were disrupted and trains continued to arrive at the underground station, which links the huge travel hub to the rest of the Netherlands.

"Nobody is telling us anything about what's going on. My car is in the parking garage and I can't get it out. I'm a diabetic and I need my insulin," said one 72-year-old Dutchman, who did not want to give his name.

Schiphol, which lies about 16 kilometres (10 miles) southwest of central Amsterdam, is one of Europe's busiest travel hubs with about 50 million visitors passing through each year.

"All areas are accessible again. Tomorrow, flights will run as usual. Thank you all for your patience and understanding tonight," the airport said early Wednesday on its official Twitter account.

- Schiphol fears -

Schiphol's busy modern plaza and entrance is usually crowded with passengers and visitors, many of them enjoying a meal at one of the eateries or perusing the shops.

Tensions have been high since last month's attacks in neighbouring Belgium, which like the November attacks in Paris, were claimed by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.

One person was also arrested late Tuesday at the nearby Leiden railway station for raising a "false alarm", a spokeswoman for The Hague police told AFP.

Another person was arrested at Schiphol, but in an unrelated incident, police said.

There has been concern in the Netherlands about whether it could be targeted in a terror attack, due to its proximity to both Belgium and France.

As a precaution, the government stepped up security at national airports and train stations and tightened controls on its southern border with Belgium.

Dutch police carried out raids in Rotterdam last month, uncovering about 45 kilos (99 pounds) of ammunition in one apartment linked to a foiled attack on France.

French suspect Anis Bahri was arrested at the flat in the southern port on March 27 at Paris' request.

He is fighting his extradition to Paris, where he is wanted on suspicion of plotting a foiled attack on France for Islamic State with another man, Reda Kriket.

Two Algerians arrested with Bahri have been remanded in custody in the Netherlands.


© 2016 AFP

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