Dutch standoff after police raid
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) -- Dutch special forces were locked in a standoff Wednesday with an unknown number of terror suspects holed up in a house in The Hague after three officers were wounded by a hand grenade during an attempted raid, authorities said.
Snipers were posted on nearby rooftops and anti-terror forces appeared to be readying for a second assault Wednesday afternoon. RTF television reported that eight to 10 gunshots rang out at the site.
Other suspects were still inside the building, Hague Police Chief Gerard Bouwman said at a news conference. He confirmed that police and the suspects had exchanged gunfire earlier.
The NOS news agency reported that one suspected had surrendered.
Hague Chief Prosecutor Han Moraal said the raid, launched early Wednesday morning, was part of a "continuing investigation into terrorism," but would not confirm whether it was related to the November 2 killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an alleged Islamic radical.
Several city blocks were cordoned off in a mostly immigrant neighborhood near The Hague's Holland Spoor train station and the air space over the city was restricted. Residents were taken by bus to a local school.
"At the moment of assault, a hand grenade was thrown at the arrest team," Bouwman said. "It exploded and several officers were hurt."
Bouwman said one of the injured police officers had been briefly treated and sent home while the other two remained hospitalized, one with serious injuries. "No vital organs were hurt but he suffered considerable injuries."
Sylvia Cordia, 42, who lives across the street from the house, said she saw several explosions.
"I saw one policeman crumble to the ground and another was dragged away to safety," she said, adding that the suspects shouted threats in broken Dutch when the police asked them to surrender.
"There were several people in the house, and I heard a man yelling, 'I'll chop your head off' and yelling profanities," she said.
Photographers captured images of a man of Asian descent, wearing only boxer shorts, being dragged from the building and escorted away, but police would not say whether he was a suspect.
There have been more than a dozen arson attacks in the Netherlands against churches and mosques since Van Gogh's killing in Amsterdam more than a week ago. An Islamic school in Eindhoven 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 film about the treatment of women under Islam.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende 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. It is the joint task of Muslims and non-Muslims to warn young people against radicalization. Together we need to work toward a peaceful society."
Six suspects, believed to be members of a terrorist group, are in police custody, including the alleged killer, 26-year-old Mohammed Bouyeri, who holds dual Dutch and Moroccan citizenship.
Balkenende said he was "concerned about the hardening climate in the Netherlands" and condemned the cycle of reprisals.
"We have to utterly reject this violence, all together, because we're being un-Dutch," he said.