Two arrests as Special Forces end 'terror' siege
10 November 2004 , AMSTERDAM — Shots were heard as Dutch Special Forces raided a house in The Hague on Wednesday and arrested two people to end a tense stand-off with suspected terrorists.
10 November 2004
AMSTERDAM — Shots were heard as Dutch Special Forces raided a house in The Hague on Wednesday and arrested two people to end a tense stand-off with suspected terrorists.
One of the arrested suspects suffered a shoulder injury and the public prosecutor's office (OM) said it will release further information about the operation later on Wednesday night.
Shots had been heard in the area at about 4.30pm and one or more police helicopters were seen hovering overhead as police moved in. There were fears the terror suspects had been armed with explosives.
Special Forces units had been on highest alert around the house for much of the day, having failed to arrest several suspects in a 2.45am raid after three police officers were hurt in an explosion.
The members of the specialist arrest team were injured by a hand grenade when they attempted to carry out the anti-terrorist raid. News agency ANP also quotes witnesses saying that that the officers had opened a booby-trapped door.
All three police officers are expected to live, but two of them suffered serious injuries to their legs and/or stomach. The third has already been released from hospital.
Police immediately sealed of the area after the explosion and revealed at a press conference at 9.50am that several suspects were still in the building. Every effort was being made to end the stand-off safely for everyone concerned, officials said.
A no-fly zone was introduced over the city, banning airplanes from flying lower than 700m above the ground in a 7km radius around the Laak district. This meant airline flights to and from Schiphol in Amsterdam would not be affected, but those from Rotterdam Airport could face disruptions.
Various media reports said tanks were being deployed in the area and that the suspected terrorists were entrenched in the building with explosives. But a public prosecutor spokesman later denied tanks were being deployed to the district, news agency Novum reported.
Ambulances and fire fighting trucks were dispatched to the scene and the identity of anyone attempting to leave the district was being checked by police. People not listed as a local resident in the council's population register risked being detained for questioning.
Hospitals in The Hague had been put on alert and police snipers were said to have taken up position on nearby rooftops.
The immediate vicinity around the house was sealed off and police in bullet proof vests were diverting traffic away from the scene. All tram traffic was diverted also. Residents from nearby homes were evacuated.
The explosion took place in the Antheunisstraat as the arrest team moved in. The arrest was ordered by the National Detective Unit, or Nationale Recherche, which is involved in investigating serious and organised crime.
Members of the marine's Special Forces unit BBE were involved in the police operation. The BBE is primarily involved in combating hijackings, kidnappings and other terrorist actions. The soldiers are heavily armed.
Residents said the operation started just after 2.30am, with one local saying that the suburb was woken by a loud explosion. "At 3am there was another explosion and shouting. At about 3.30am, we also heard shooting," the resident said.
One man — dressed only in underwear — was seen being escorted by two police officers in bullet proof vests to a police van on the Lorentzplein at about 8am. It was not immediately clear who the man was, but he was possibly an evacuated resident.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende was being informed of developments by Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner.
The Hague Mayor Wim Deetman, national prosecution office chief Marc van Erve, city police chief Gerard Bouman and The Hague chief public prosecutor Han Moraal gave a brief press conference close to 10am on Wednesday.
The overriding message of the press conference was that police were still locked in a stand-off with the suspected terrorists. Whether the suspects have been implicated into the investigation into the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh or other cases, was not immediately known.
Authorities refused to reveal how many suspects were still in the building, but confirmed a crisis centre had been established to co-ordinate operations.
The so-called "national triangle" — consisting of the director-general of safety at the Interior Ministry, the director-general of the maintenance of law at the Justice Ministry and the National-Co-ordinator for Surveillance and Security (under the authority of both ministries) — was also being kept up to speed.
Balkenende described the explosion as "extraordinarily sad", adding that "this indicates we are in an atmosphere of hardening. There is every reason to condemn this sort of thing forcefully. Everyone is needed in this. In this manner [referring to the violence] we are busy being non-Dutch".
In other news from the siege area, one person was injured and police arrested at least one and possibly two people after a scuffle between two native Dutch youths and two Moroccan youth. The skinheads shouted abuse at the Moroccans, who responded violently.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news