Europe

Dutch arrest after Rotterdam gig cancelled amid terror threat

A policeman stands by as police evacuate the concert venue Maassilo on 23 August Image copyright AFP
Image caption Police quickly evacuated the Maassilo concert hall in Rotterdam after the threat

Police have arrested a 22-year-old man south of Rotterdam, hours after a rock concert in the city was cancelled because of an alert from Spanish police.

The alarm late on Wednesday centred on a gig involving US band the Allah-Las, due to perform in Rotterdam's Maassilo.

The man was detained in the early hours of Thursday as part of the inquiry into the terror threat, said police.

He had apparently sent a threatening message via the Telegram messaging app.

"We're really curious to hear from him why he carried out this idiotic act... we're going to give him a good grilling," Justice Minister Stef Blok told Dutch radio.

"This man played a nasty role in this so he's really going to account for his actions."

Police said they had "concrete" information from Spanish police that the concert was going to be targeted. The tip-off came less than a week after the jihadist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils in which 15 people died.

'Drunk' Spanish driver

Officers wearing bulletproof vests were sent to the venue, which was evacuated.

A van with a Spanish number plate was stopped while driving erratically in a nearby street and a bomb squad was sent to examine the vehicle. Gas canisters were found inside and the driver was detained, but within hours Dutch authorities had ruled out any potential link.

The man was described by police as drunk. The Spanish driver was said to be a mechanic who had the gas canisters in his vehicle as part of his job - and he was released by police on Thursday.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Gas canisters were found in a van near the venue

"He didn't have anything to do with the threat to the venue," Rotterdam police spokesman Gijs van Nimwegen told the BBC.

Suspect blindfolded

Hours later, at 02:00 Thursday (00:00 GMT), a special police unit raided a house in the southern province of Brabant. In a statement (in Dutch), police said a man had been arrested and his home searched. Police gave no further details but local reports said the man had been arrested at a house in an area near Zevenbergen, 40km (25 miles) south of Rotterdam.

The suspect was led out of the house blindfolded and driven away in a black BMW, residents told local media.

The Dutch DSI counter-terrorism unit is involved in the investigation and a police spokesman told local TV in Brabant that the inquiry was "in full swing". The Netherlands' National Co-ordinator for Security and Counterterrorism, Dick Schoof, said the Brabant arrest had no link to the Spanish driver.

Mr Van Nimwegen said the tip-off from the Spanish authorities "wasn't about a fire or something, it was a possible terror threat; we weren't going to take any chances". The terror threat in the Netherlands has remained at the second highest level of "substantial" since 2013, with authorities saying the chance of an attack is real.

The Allah-Las have often received threats because of their name and the Spanish warning led to the gig being called off at the last minute. The Los Angeles-based indie-rock band were due to play in Warsaw later on Thursday and Polish media said the concert was expected to go ahead as planned.

In an interview last year, the Allah-Las told The Guardian newspaper that they regularly received messages from Muslims offended by the use of the word Allah - Arabic for God - in the group's name.

They said they had wanted a religious-sounding name after being inspired by the group The Jesus and Mary Chain.

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