Terrorist attacks foiled – seven arrested (update)
Six men and one woman have been arrested on suspicion of preparing to carry out terrorist attacks on shops in Amsterdam Zuidoost on Thursday.
One of those arrested is a family member of a man connected to the Madrid bombing five years ago this week, said Amsterdam police chief Bernard Welten at a press confernce on Thursday evening.
The man is related to one of the suspects in the Madrid bombing who later committed suicide.
The arrests have reduced the threat of attacks but a risk remains, said Welten.
He said all of those detained are Dutch with a Moroccan background and are aged between 19 and 64.
Although some of them have a police record for violence none has a previous conviction for terrorism, the police commissioner said. He added that further arrests cannot be ruled out.
Police were still searching four addresses in Amsterdam in connection with the investigation on Thursday night.
Welten said that a warning that three men were planning an attack in Amsterdam was received by the police at midnight on Wednesday.
The call, later traced to a private mobile phone in Brussels, said the three men would place explosives in three major stores in Amsterdam Zuidoost and mentioned the Ikea and Mediamarkt shops by name. The names, addresses and descriptions of the three men were given.
Because of the specific nature of the warning, the police immediately launched an investigation.
The first arrest was made at midday on Thursday, the seventh at 5.45 in the evening.
The Arena shopping mall, Mediamarkt, Ikea and the area around these locations were evacuated and cordonned off by police early on Thursday morning and were still out of bounds in the evening.
A nearby cinema was closed and a concert by a US band planned in the Heineken Music Hall on Thursday night was cancelled.
Amsterdam mayor Job Cohen, who was also at the press conference, said the Bijlmer metro station in the area had been kept under close surveillance throughout the day. It is not yet known when the area will be reopened.
He stressed that it is still not clear whether all those arrrested are actually connected to the threatened attack and to what extent.
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