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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Dutch Police Foil Vaccine Center Attack Plot, Suspect Detained

Prosecutors in the Netherlands say police have arrested a 37-year-old man for allegedly plotting to set off a “firework bomb” with “terrorist intent” at a coronavirus vaccination center.

The man, whose identity remains unknown due to Dutch privacy guidelines, was arrested March 18. 

The man allegedly planned to attack the former town hall in the northern port of Den Helder, 90 kilometers (55 miles) north of Amsterdam, which is being used as a COVID-19 vaccination center. 

Prosecutors said the alleged plot is being considered an act of terrorism because it “aimed to instill serious fear among the population and disrupt the economic and social structures of the country.” They say the suspect “sought to sabotage a crucial government process, the nationally coordinated vaccination program, in an extremely violent manner.” 

The prosecution’s statement continued, saying, “This also affects public health: the fewer people [that] can be vaccinated, the more victims the virus will claim.” 

Authorities said Thursday that the suspect has been detained since his arrest and investigators will continue their search for possible accomplices.

Earlier last month, a blast caused by a “homemade device” smashed windows at a coronavirus testing center in a small Dutch town. Nobody was hurt in the explosion. In January, rioters attacked a coronavirus test facility in the fishing village of Urk on the first night of a 9 p.m.-to-4:30 a.m. nationwide curfew in the Netherlands. 

The Netherlands has been in a months-long lockdown due to frequently high coronavirus infection rates. Restaurants, bars, museums and other public places remain closed in an attempt to alleviate the spread of the virus, although the government has been relaxing some restrictions for people who can prove they have been vaccinated or tested negatively for COVID-19. 

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