Seven arrested as Dutch police 'foil large-scale terror attack'

Dutch police arrest terror suspects in a parking lot in the city of Weert in the southeastern Netherlands

Dutch police arrest terror suspects in a parking lot in the city of Weert in the southeastern Netherlands

Dutch authorities on Thursday arrested seven men suspected of plotting a large attack with hand grenades, automatic weapons and explosives belts, prosecutors said.

Officers had placed a group of people under surveillance, a central figure being a 34-year-old man of Iraqi origin convicted in 2017 of attempting to reach territory controlled by the jihadist Islamic State group, the statement added.

Heavily armed police arrested the men in the towns of Arnhem, about 100 kilometres south of Amsterdam, and Weert, close to the German border.

An investigation into other potential targets is continuing.

Prosecutors say they were allegedly seeking firearms training and were arrested in possession of five small handguns.

Prosecutors said the investigation sped up this month because of the suspects" "advanced preparations'.

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"One of the men from Arnhem wanted to commit an attack with a group at a major event in the Netherlands and kill many victims, according to the Dutch Intelligence Service (AIVD)", the prosecutor's office said.

Ferd Grapperhaus, the Minister for Justice and Security, told Dutch national broadcaster NOS that the authorities swooped in time to prevent an attack. "They weren't so far that it was a danger to society, in the sense that it was almost too late".

The arrests took place almost a month after an Afghan man was shot by police at Amsterdam's central station after stabbing two American tourists.

The anti-terror coordinator has decided not to raise the threat level in light of the arrests.

"Jihad networks are also active in the Netherlands with the intention to plot attacks in Europe", the office said.

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