Dutch Police Arrest Three Terror Suspects
THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Special forces stormed a house in The Hague (search) on Wednesday, ending a 15-hour standoff in which one suspect and three police officers were wounded, authorities said. Two suspected terrorists were arrested in the raid and a third was detained in another city.
The standoff began when special forces tried to storm the house but aborted the effort after the three officers were injured by an explosive booby trap and a hand grenade that was thrown at them, Police Chief Gerard Bouwman said. It ended with a second raid by black-masked special forces shortly before dark.
Police sealed off the area while they searched the building for explosives.
Bouwman said two suspects were arrested in the standoff. A third was detained in the city of Utrecht in a related investigation, according to the national prosecutor's office.
Hague Chief Prosecutor Han Moraal earlier said the raids were part of a "continuing investigation into terrorism," but he would not confirm if the case was related to the Nov. 2 killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh (search) by an alleged Islamic radical.
One of the officers was seriously wounded, Bouwman said.
During the siege, several city blocks were cordoned off in a mostly immigrant neighborhood near The Hague's Holland Spoor train station (search) and residents were taken by bus to a school.
Police snipers were posted on nearby rooftops, helicopters hovered overhead and at least a dozen SWAT teams stood ready on standby.
Eight to 10 gunshots rang out at one point.
A bare-chested man, handcuffed and blindfolded, was seen being carried from the house on a stretcher. Police spokesman Jan van den Braak confirmed that one suspect was shot in the shoulder.
Witness Irma Heijmans said on national television she saw two young men — one who appeared to be wounded — escorted from the building by police. An Associated Press reporter saw video of a wounded man being arrested and taken away by ambulance.
Sylvia Cordia, 42, who lives across the street from the house, said she saw several explosions in the early morning attack. "I saw one policeman crumble to the ground and another was dragged away to safety."
"There were several people in the house, and I heard a man yelling, 'I'll chop your head off' and yelling profanities," she said.
Tensions have been high in the Netherlands since Van Gogh's murder in Amsterdam eight days ago, with more than a dozen arson attacks against churches and mosques. An Islamic school in Eindhoven (search) was bombed Monday night, and another in Uden was burned down Tuesday. No injuries were reported.
Van Gogh had received death threats after the release of his most recent movie about the treatment of women under Islam.
Six suspects, believed to be members of a radical Islamic terrorist group, are in police custody in connection with the Van Gogh murder, including the alleged killer, 26-year-old Mohammed Bouyeri, who holds dual Dutch and Moroccan citizenship.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende (search) interrupted a parliamentary debate on the European Union to discuss the country's crisis.
"Extremism is reaching the roots of our democracy," he said. "We cannot let ourselves be blinded by people who seek to drag us into a spiral of violence.
Balkenende condemned the cycle of reprisals. "We have to utterly reject this violence, altogether, because we're being un-Dutch," he said.