by our Dutch Affairs editor carin Tiggeloven, 3 December 2002
All ten IKEA stores in the Netherlands will remain shut today after two bombs were found at the Amsterdam and Sliedrecht outlets. Police have meanwhile discovered a third explosive device in IKEA's Utrecht branch. All of the Swedish furniture retailer's other outlets are currently being searched.
On Tuesday night, police announced that two explosive devices had been found, one in Amsterdam and one in the southwestern town of Sliedrecht. Both cities are home to outlets of the world's largest furniture retailer, IKEA. But police refused to confirm that the devices had been found at the stores.
"I cannot say where the bombs were found, but they have been defused at police stations in the two cities", police spokeswoman Elly Florax said. Two members of the bomb disposal squad were reported to be slightly injured while trying to defuse the device.
The finds prompted police to search all 10 IKEA outlets in the country. Reports came in of a third device planted in one of stores. This may have been the one found in Utrecht on Wednesday morning.
The Utrecht authorities have closed the by-lane of the A-2 motorway to all traffic. Most IKEA branches are located near the main exits. No shipping is allowed on the key waterway linking Amsterdam and the Rhine.
No national crisis
Interior Minister Johan Remkes, who was notified about the finds last night, says there's no reason to convene the National Co-ordination Centre, set up in the event of major disasters.
IKEA has been hit by bomb scares before, linked to the company's alleged use of child labour. But this time the threats appear to be very serious.
Dec 4th, 2002, 03:42 PM
Actually, one package wasn't a bomb, the other is still being researched.
There also was a bomb scare at the ANP, but that wasn't a bomb either.
Dec 4th, 2002, 04:16 PM
Bombs were found at three different Dutch stores
Police in the Netherlands are searching all 10 outlets of the Ikea furniture chain in the country, after finding bombs in two of its stores.
Two devices were discovered in Amsterdam and Sliedrecht, near the port city of Rotterdam, on Tuesday evening. The bomb found at the Sliedrecht store later exploded at a police station, injuring two policemen.
A spokesperson for Ikea said that the company had received a letter warning of bomb attacks on the stores, adding that the threat was limited to the Netherlands.
Police have said they do not believe there is any terrorist connection to the attacks.
A third suspect package was found near the Utrecht store and destroyed. It was later found to be harmless.
We decided together with the police because of safety reasons that the company's stores in the Netherlands would be closed today
Helen van Trearum
All Ikea stores in the country have been closed, and the police have also closed sections of motorways nearby because of the threat of more bombs, creating huge traffic jams during rush hour.
The head office of the Dutch news agency ANP near The Hague was also evacuated on Wednesday, after police warned that a bomb might have been planted in the building.
Ikea issued a statement saying there were strong indications that there might be more explosives in other outlets.
"We don't want to take any risks. We are taking this very seriously," said Ikea spokeswoman Helen van Trearum.
The Swedish-based company is one of the world's largest furniture retailers, with stores in more than 30 countries.
No shop closures are planned outside the Netherlands, but staff have been informed of the bomb scare.
Ikea UK issued a press statement saying that staff had been asked to stay vigilant.
"Customers will be told the threat is specific to Holland and that at present there is no need to be concerned," the statement said.
This is thought to be the first time a chain of stores in a particular country has been targeted.
But there have been several bomb attacks directed at multinational firms over the last few years - many targeting McDonald's fast food restaurants.
The discovery of the bombs coincides with the first terrorism trial in the Netherlands since the 11 September attacks in the United States, but police said there was no apparent connection.
Dec 4th, 2002, 04:40 PM
Just heard they did find bombs :eek:
Dec 4th, 2002, 04:50 PM
btw, I love IKEA stores.
I hope the authorities find the culprits soon.
Dec 4th, 2002, 11:07 PM
Ikea shuts its Dutch stores after bombs discovered
Two policemen are injured after one of the devices taken from the furniture giant's outlet explodes
THE HAGUE - Furniture giant Ikea closed all its stores in the Netherlands yesterday after bombs were found in two outlets during the busy holiday shopping season.
Two police officers were slightly injured when one of the devices exploded at a police station in Sliedrecht south of Rotterdam after it had been taken there to be defused, officials said, while explosives were also discovered at an Ikea store outside Amsterdam.
Another bomb threat forced the evacuation of the offices of the Dutch national news agency ANP in The Hague, and bomb disposal experts were on their way to investigate a suspicious package, the agency said.
The alert came amid increasing media reports on stepped-up threats around Europe, though Dutch authorities were quick to downplay yesterday's incident as an attempt at a terrorist attack.
'We have no clues to suggest that and we want to dispel that image specifically,' an Amsterdam prosecutor's office spokesman Marianne Bloos said.
'We don't believe this is a terrorist-related action,' said Amsterdam police spokesman Remco Gerretsen. 'We have indications it has nothing to do' with the trial.
Police have not yet indicated how they received the warnings about the explosive devices.
The world's largest home goods retailer issued a statement from Sweden saying it had closed its 10 Dutch stores because explosives were found on the premises of two stores.
'We don't have any detailed information, except that the Dutch police have discovered bombs in several stores,' Ikea spokesman Charlotte Lindgren said.
A Dutch spokesman for the retailer said all 4,500 store employees in the Netherlands were told to stay home.
Over the weekend, Dutch Interior Minister Johan Remkes revealed that the authorities received a threat last Wednesday of an attack on specific tunnels in the Netherlands.
The National Crisis Centre convened and preparations made but it turned out to be a hoax, Mr Remkes said.
BBC said no shop closures are planned outside the Netherlands, but staff have been informed of the bomb scare. --AFP, AP
Dec 4th, 2002, 11:09 PM
OMG! Spooky! We were talking about the IKEA in Amsterdam in my Dutch course on Tuesday! lol Must have been a bad omen to do so! ;)