Heavily armed police officers stormed Utrecht Centraal last night after a report emerged of a suspicious person on a train.
Eyewitnesses report many armed officers approaching the station around 7:00 PM. Shortly afterwards platform 5/7 was evacuated, followed by the entire building within the next half hour.
Officers searched the train and arrested two suspects. It is unclear what was said to provoke the police response, or on what grounds the two suspects were arrested.
Locked on a train
Annette van Soest was waiting in a train where the incident occurred. She told RTL Nieuws that the train was delayed for a long time. “Suddenly I saw several police officers entering. They combed the whole train.”
Passengers of that train were eventually told that the train wouldn’t run, but that they could board another intercity on the opposite platform.
Heavily Armed soldiers in Utrecht Centraal railway station, Utrecht province of 🇳🇱 Netherlands. Two suspects arrested at Utrecht central train station. Thank God they are arrested before something bad happened.#Netherlands pic.twitter.com/463Bo3y0Nc
— Cimmy. (@SimzAU) November 3, 2020
However, once passengers switched trains, the doors closed, says Graeme Smits (36) to RTL. “At a certain point someone wanted to open the doors again, but that didn’t work. Then it was announced that there was a technical malfunction and that the train would not leave,” he said.
Passengers waited on the train with no ventilation and without any further updates for around 50 minutes. Eventually, Graeme got in contact with NS Support via the NS app. He was told that “The reason we do not open the doors is by order of the police.”
Passengers became restless from the lack of information. Annette says that “suddenly we saw on the information boards on the platforms in red the message that everyone had to leave the station immediately by order of the police.”
Utrecht Centraal station ontruimd pic.twitter.com/c6qqQpDdbQ
— Hans Jaap Melissen (@HansJMelissen) November 3, 2020
Finally, police stormed the train that both Graeme and Annette were waiting on. “They were heavily armed with automatic weapons and ran through the train with a bumper,” says Graeme.
“When they entered our compartment, they shouted, ‘Keep calm and put your hands up!’ I dropped my mobile phone from my hands, a little further on a woman started to cry with shock. One of the officers then tried to calm her. ”
Shortly afterwards, the doors of the train opened and passengers were able to leave.
Emergency services applauded
The station was re-opened around 8:15 PM. Despite an explosives team being called to the site, police have confirmed that no explosives or weapons were found. All train operations were halted during the search.
Utrecht’s Deputy Mayor, Den Oudsten, has thanked emergency services for their work. “Thanks to adequate action by the police and other emergency services, the situation was quickly under control and two suspects were arrested,” he said in a statement.
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