Friday, March 13, 2009
Seven people have been arrested in the Netherlands on suspicion of planning a terror attack on an Ikea furniture store and a number of shops near the Ajax stadium in the capital Amsterdam.
The arrests follow a telephone warning to Amsterdam police late on Wednesday evening, police chief Bernard Welten said on Thursday evening. The caller from Brussels said three people were planning an attack using explosive devices in or near a major department store in the southeast of Amsterdam. The aim was to cause as many casualties as possible, the caller said.
Public prosecutor Herman Bolhaar told the press that the caller was a relative of one of the perpetrators of the train bombings in Madrid, five years ago. The six men and one woman who were arrested are between 19 and 64 years of age; all of them are Dutch citizens of Moroccan origin. All of them are charged with preparing an act of terrorism. After these arrests, police say the threat has been eliminated, but the prosecutor added that more people may be arrested.
In addition to the arrests and a number of house searches in the Dutch capital (picture), police in Belgium carried out house seaches in Brussels.
In the course of Thursday morning, the Ikea store and a number of other shops in the area were evacuated. The shops are on Arena Boulevard, named after Ajax's Arena football stadium which is nearby. The shops and the Heineken Music Hall remained closed all day. It is not clear when they will reopen; the police search for hidden explosives is continuing.