Four officers are wounded during standoff
THE HAGUE — Dutch police stormed a flat after a 14-hour standoff in which four officers were wounded, arresting two people there and five more in other parts of the country all suspected of links with a network of radical Muslims.
A prosecutors’ office spokesman said four people in Amsterdam and one in the central town of Amersfoort were detained, as well as the pair held after the siege by hundreds of police in The Hague that lasted most of the day yesterday.
”The investigation is into a network of radical Muslims,” Mark Erve told a news conference, but declining to give the nationalities of those detained.
Officials declined to say if the operation was linked to last week’s killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a suspected Islamic militant that has sparked apparent tit-for-tat attacks on churches and mosques.
Van Gogh had enraged Muslims with a film accusing Islam of promoting violence against women.
Han Moraal, chief public prosecutor, said the two arrested in The Hague were suspected of plotting murder with a ”terrorist intent” and attempted murder or homicide of policemen.
Police said one of the suspects was shot in the shoulder when a special police unit entered the apartment. Hundreds of police had laid siege to the building after a predawn raid in which the suspects resisted arrest and threw a grenade.
Four officers were hurt, one of them seriously, when the grenade exploded.
The area, a poor neighborhood in The Hague where almost half the population is immigrant, was cordoned off and the city airspace closed. Shots were heard as police stormed.
The raid recalled a police operation in Madrid in April when seven suspects in the March train bombings blew themselves up after police cornered them in a suburban apartment.
The Netherlands has seen an upsurge in violence since Van Gogh was shot and stabbed as he cycled to work on Nov. 2, raising questions about the Dutch reputation for tolerance.
The killing has fueled Dutch hostility toward immigration that has been on the rise since the Sept. 11 attacks on US cities and the 2002 murder of populist politician Pim Fortuyn.
Police with dogs broke up scuffles between right-wingers and immigrants in a crowd of bystanders during The Hague siege.
”It’s unthinkable that things like this are happening here now. I moved here . . . because I thought this was the place where people could be free and not worry about terrorism,” said 35-year-old Polish resident Anna Bogac.
Police have arrested 10 people in the Van Gogh investigation and are still holding six, including the prime suspect who is also charged with links to a group with terrorist plans.
Prosecutors have said they are looking for other militant cells and possible links with international Islamist groups.
Police have detained several people in terrorism investigations in recent months but have released most of them due to lack of evidence. They are still holding a teenager arrested in June who sparked a national security alert after they found maps and sketches of key buildings in his home.
More than 10 mosques and churches have been hit by arson attacks since Van Gogh was killed. On Tuesday night an arson attack gutted a Muslim school, where the words ”Theo R.I.P.” were scrawled on the walls.
About 6,000 people held a silent march last evening in the town where the school was burned down.
Violence spilled into neighboring Belgium, where an explosion outside a mosque in the eastern city of Beringen shattered windows in the building.
A little-known Islamist group threatened on Tuesday to hit the Netherlands if the attacks on Muslim buildings did not stop. The country has received several threats from Islamic militants in recent months over the 1,300 Dutch troops serving in Iraq.