Man in toilet sparks alarm in Rotterdam train station

18th September 2015, Comments 0 comments

Dutch police evacuated a Thalys international train and part of Rotterdam station Friday after a man locked himself in the train toilets and refused to come out.

Train services from the city were suspended for several hours after the man was seen "running onto a stationary train and going directly into the toilet," Dutch police said.

Half of the platforms and much of the central station had to be cleared during the operation to arrest the man, whose motives remained unclear.

He was detained by a SWAT team after a two-hour standoff and a bomb squad searched the train as well as his rucksack. But it only contained "personal belongings," Dutch police said.

The suspect though was "unwell" and was taken to hospital, although his identity remained unknown. Police are continuing their investigation.

Friday's incident on the Amsterdam-to-Paris train came less than a month after a suspected jihadist opened fire on a Thalys train plying the same route, injuring two people.

The gunman armed with a Kalashnikov had opened fire on the high-speed train on August 21, carrying more than 550 passengers -- but was swiftly overpowered by several passengers including off-duty American servicemen.

Thalys said in an internal report released Friday that its staff had "had the best reaction possible in an unprecedented situation" last month.

But it concluded those working on Thalys, a branch of the French state operator SNCF, will receive extra training in dealing with situations of extreme crisis and danger."

The train company, which mainly operates services from Paris to Amsterdam via Brussels, said however Friday's incident had posed "no danger for our passengers."

Services were suspended for the rest of the morning, but resumed in the early afternoon.

"Thalys trains are gradually back to normal," the company said in a statement, warning "however there might be still some delays."

In a separate incident, two levels of the main train station in Antwerp, Belgium, were evacuated Friday after a suspect bag was discovered on a train from Brussels to Amsterdam.

But police found nothing suspicious in the suitcase, media reported.

© 2015 AFP

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