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Terrorism not ruled out in Amsterdam double stabbing incident

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

Published: 01st September 2018 12:43 AM  |   Last Updated: 01st September 2018 12:43 AM   |  A+A-

murder, stabbing, knife attack

Image for representational purpose only.

By AFP

AMSTERDAM: A knife attacker on Friday stabbed two people at Amsterdam's Central Station before being shot by police, Dutch police said.

Witnesses described scenes of panic as gunshots rang out and thousands of commuters and tourists were evacuated from the rail terminus shortly after midday.

"Around 12.10 a man in the west side tunnel of Amsterdam Central Station stabbed two other people and directly after that he was shot by the police," Amsterdam police spokesman Rob van der Veen said, adding terrorism was not being ruled out by investigators.

"The two people are very badly injured, and they were brought to the hospital," he said. 

"We are looking at all scenarios, also the worst scenario, which is terrorism."

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.

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.

Van der Veen said the knifeman's condition was not life-threatening.

"At this moment we don't know what the motivation is of the suspect and that's why we try our utmost to find out what the reason was for the stabbing," he said.

Platforms closed off 

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

However, police shortly afterwards issued an update to say there was "no talk" of a complete evacuation and that only two platforms had been closed off to passengers.

An AFP correspondent at the scene said police cordoned off an area inside the station shortly 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.

Van der Veen said the west tunnel area is still closed while forensic specialists carry out their investigation. 

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

A special police department opened a routine probe into why police shot the man.

The Netherlands has so far been spared from the slew 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 made no mention of 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.

Police appealed for any witnesses to come forward.

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