Gangs blamed for wave of explosions targeting homes in Rotterdam

Police cordon at the Haaksbergen crash site

An explosion that damaged a flat in a Rotterdam suburb is the 40th such incident in the city since the turn of the year.

Nobody was injured in the blast in 1e Schansstraat, in the Delfshaven neighbourhood, at around 4am on Tuesday. Police said the residents were not home at the time.

The city’s mayor, Ahmed Aboutaleb, has blamed drugs gangs for the escalating violence, claiming that the success of authorities in intercepting narcotics shipments has triggered a wave of between against rival groups and their families.

The national police force is setting up a specialist team to gather information about the attacks. “We will analyse all incidents: what kind of area are they taking place in, what explosives or weapons are used? Not just at national level, but also in a European context.”

Police are also stepping up their presence in areas where the violence has been concentrated, such as Crooswijkseweg and Van Speykstraat.

Ingrid Coenradie, councillor for local party Leefbaar Rotterdam, said the community also had a role to play in making their neighbourhood safer. Police have arrested a number of suspects in recent weeks, including two teenage boys who were caught in the act of placing a firebomb.

“Parents, neighbours and relatives need to talk more to the council and the police, because there are plenty of people who know that youths are hanging out on the streets at night,” she said. “Look at each other and ask: ‘why weren’t you home last night?'”

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