A 27-year-old man who held several people hostage at an Apple store in a busy Amsterdam square has died in hospital from his injuries, Dutch prosecutors said on Wednesday.
The man, said to be a resident of the Dutch capital, entered the Apple store on Leidseplein armed with two guns, sparking a tense five-hour ordeal on Tuesday.
The standoff ended when the suspect was hit by a police car while chasing his last hostage, who made a desperate escape for freedom and ran out of the store.
“I can confirm that the man died in the hospital tonight,” said prosecutor’s spokesman Franklin Wattimena.
“More than that, we cannot say, but the investigation continues,” he told AFP.
Later, the police saluted the hostage who helped end the tense ordeal that took downtown as a hero.
Dozens of officers rushed to the building at 5:30 pm (22:00 IST) on Tuesday, after the suspect wearing camouflage entered the store in the popular Leidseplein neighborhood, sparking a chaotic exodus from the building.
The suspect took a Bulgarian hostage and demanded 200 million euros (approximately Rs. 1,690 crore) in cryptocurrency, as well as a free ticket out of town.
About 70 people fled the building and four people hid in a closet, apparently unknown to the suspect.
Five hours later, the suspect asked for water.
Footage showed the hostage bowing as the water was delivered, before running out of the building, closely followed by the suspect.
The suspect was then thrown by a police vehicle before a robot checked him for explosives as he lay on the road, lit up with laser sights from police snipers.
“A special forces car reacted very appropriately and alertly,” Police Chief Frank Paauw said at an overnight press conference, praising the hostage’s bravery.
“The hostage played a heroic role. Within seconds he escaped this hostage situation, otherwise it would have been an even longer – and unpleasant – night.”
Police later confirmed that the suspect was using an explosive device, but “that it was not prepared” during the incident.
He was taken to hospital “gravely injured”, police said, adding that a “widespread” investigation had been launched.
“All options are open on a possible motive,” they added, saying that at least two houses in the Dutch capital were searched.
The Amsterdam-based daily Het Parool identified the man as Abdel Rahman A., a supermarket delivery man who has been in trouble with the law.
However, his motive for surrounding the Apple store is still unclear, according to Dutch media reports.
The suspect pointed an automatic weapon at officers, Paauw said, when special police units arrived on the scene Tuesday and cordoned off the area around the store.
All Apple stores in the Netherlands were closed on Wednesday, and the hostage-taking site on Tuesday will remain closed on Thursday, the company said.
Leidseplein is popular with tourists and known for its lively bars and cafes. The area was quickly closed off and the restaurants, bars and theaters were closed after the hostages were taken.
The incident took place near where well-known Dutch crime reporter Peter R. de Vries was shot dead in broad daylight last year.
“Just as the city was about to reopen and return to normal life, violence is erupting again in the heart of Amsterdam,” Deputy Mayor Rutger Groot Wassink said on Tuesday.
Dutch Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgoz-Zegerius praised the police’s swift action.
“His controlled and decisive action deserves nothing but praise,” she said in a tweet.
“This avoided worse,” added the minister.