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European Union

Amsterdam station: attacker shot by police after double stabbing

Officials said the assailant’s motive was not known and tweeted that they were ‘looking at all scenarios’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 August, 2018, 10:22pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 September, 2018, 1:50am

Two people were stabbed at Amsterdam’s busy Central Station on Friday before the alleged attacker was shot and wounded, Dutch police said.

Witnesses described scenes of panic as gunshots rang out and thousands of commuters and tourists were evacuated from the railway terminal soon after midday.

“A suspect has been shot after a stabbing incident at Amsterdam Central Station,” police said on Twitter.

It was not clear whether the incident was terror-related.

Police told Dutch media the assailant’s motive was unknown and tweeted that they were “looking at all scenarios”. They appealed for witnesses to come forward.

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The two injured people and the knife-wielding suspect were taken to hospital, Amsterdam police said, although their condition was not revealed.

One witness said he saw a young man “stumble” into his flower shop at the station with a bleeding wound to his hand.

“Shortly afterwards I heard some shots and I know something has gone badly wrong,” Richard Snelders told the ANP news agency. A while later he saw another man lying on the ground nearby, he said.

“The first thing that comes up in your mind is that it’s a terror attack. After all, you are at Amsterdam Central Station. There was a lot of panic,” Snelders said.

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Police quickly arrived at the scene, ordering one of the men in English to “stay down” after he had been shot, Snelders added. “It happened really quickly.”

Images posted on social media showed security guards ushering passengers towards exits and paramedics arriving at the scene with stretchers.

Initially, police said the station, which is in the Dutch capital’s historic canal-ringed city centre, had been evacuated and closed off to all rail traffic.

However, police soon afterwards issued an update to say there was “no talk” of a complete evacuation and that only two platforms were closed to passengers.

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An AFP correspondent at the scene said police cordoned off an area inside the station soon after the incident and herded throngs of people outside.

“A large group of people, including foreign tourists, are still patiently waiting outside the station,” the correspondent said, adding that a “large number of police are still present”.

The two platforms which were cordoned off were reopened for rail traffic two hours later, police said.

Several police vehicles and ambulances were seen outside the large red-brick station as security officials and police officers stood guard wearing high-visibility vests.

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The Netherlands has so far been spared from the series of terror attacks which have rocked its closest European neighbours in the past few years.

But amid a number of scares and reports that people linked to some of the attacks may have crossed briefly into the country, concerned top Dutch security and intelligence officials have stressed that the threat level is substantial.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte did not mention the incident at his weekly press conference.

Around 250,000 people travel through Central Station every day, according to statistics provided by the Amsterdam.info travel guide.

Trams, which leave from the front of the station were not running, police said, adding that more information was not immediately available.