Several people taken hostage in Dutch town

Emergency services gather where multiple people are being held hostage in a building in Ede, on March 30, 2024. (Photograph: Aleksandar Furtula / AP Photo)

Several people have been taken hostage in a town in central Netherlands Saturday, according to police, with houses evacuated and the town centre closed down.

Police said there was currently no reason to suspect a “terrorist motive” for the incident in Ede.

“A hostage situation involving several people is underway in a building in the centre” of the town of Ede, police said in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.

It is not known how many people are being held but local media have reported around four or five people are involved.

Police said they had cleared a cordon around a cafe, with residents of around 150 houses being brought to safety.

The local municipality said on its website that the town centre had been closed off and that riot police and explosives experts were at the scene.

Authorities called on residents to avoid the town centre and train traffic was being diverted.

“We see there are many questions about the motive. At this time there is no indication of a terrorist motive,” police said.

The Netherlands has seen a series of terror attacks and plots but not on the scale of other European countries, such as France or Britain.

In 2019, the country was stunned by a shooting spree on a tram in the city of Utrecht that claimed four lives.

A Turkish-born man identified as Gokmen Tanis later admitted a terror motive for the rampage that virtually shut down the country’s fourth biggest city.

Also in 2019, Dutch police charged two suspected jihadists with planning a terror attack using suicide bombs and car bombs. Authorities said an attack was planned that year.

A young Afghan man identified only as “Jawed S.” stabbed two American tourists at Amsterdam Central Station in 2018, later telling judges he wanted “to protect the Prophet Mohammed.”

The assault came a day after far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders announced he was cancelling a plan to stage a cartoon competition to caricature the Prophet Mohammed.

At the time Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid urged Muslims to attack Dutch troops after Wilders’ “hostile act by this country (the Netherlands) against all Muslims.”

In the most serious incident involving a terror attack, outspoken Dutch anti-Islam film director Theo van Gogh was shot and stabbed to death in 2004 in Amsterdam by a man with ties to a Dutch Islamist terror network.