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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 September 2018

Amsterdam: 'Terrorist motive' alleged in attack on Americans

A 19-year-old Afghan suspect was shot by police

Policemen and forensics at work after a stabbing incident at the central station in Amsterdam, on August 31. AFP
Policemen and forensics at work after a stabbing incident at the central station in Amsterdam, on August 31. AFP

An Afghan citizen had a "terrorist motive" for allegedly stabbing two Americans at the main train station in Amsterdam, city authorities in the Dutch capital said Saturday.

Police shot and wounded the suspect, 19, after the double stabbing on Friday at Central Station. The local government said hours later that it appeared the victims were not targeted for a specific reason, but investigators were not excluding any possibilities.

After the US ambassador to the Netherlands on Saturday identified the people injured as American tourists, Amsterdam City Hall gave an update.

"Based on the suspect's first statements, he had a terrorist motive," the city government said in a statement that did not elaborate on what the statements were or how they showed intent.

The wounded Americans were recovering in a hospital from what police said were serious but not life-threatening injuries. Their identities have not been released. The suspect, who was identified only as Jawed S in line with privacy rules in the Netherlands, also remains in hospital.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte confirmed on Twitter that the investigation was focused on extremist ideology.

The Netherlands' counter-terror chief, Dick Schoof, tweeted that the country's threat level would remain at number four on a scale that tops out at five.

"Sadly, this reprehensible act fits into the current threat assessment," he said.

The suspect had a residency permit from Germany. German authorities searched his home and seized data storage devices that would be analysed as part of the investigation, the city government said.

He was scheduled to be arraigned during a closed-door hearing with an investigating judge on Monday. Dutch officials did not disclose the charges he could face.

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A statement issued late on Friday by Amsterdam's city council said the Americans did not appear to have been victims of a targeted attack. Amsterdam authorities also said on Friday that it appeared from initial inquiries that the victims were not chosen for a clear reason.

The local government said it had no immediate plans to beef up security in the city, saying the swift action by police "shows that Amsterdam is prepared for this kind of incident".

A passerby's dramatic photo showed two police officers pointing guns at a man in blue jeans and sneakers lying on the ground inside a train station tunnel.

Earlier on Saturday, the US ambassador to the Netherlands confirmed that the two people injured on Friday were Americans visiting the Netherlands when they were stabbed at the station.

Ambassador Pete Hoekstra said embassy officials had been in touch with the victims or their families.

"We wish them a speedy recovery and are working closely with the City of Amsterdam to provide assistance to them and their families," Mr Hoekstra said.

Central Station is a busy entry and exit point for visitors to Amsterdam, with regular trains linking it to the city's Schiphol Airport. Friday is one of the busiest days of the week for train travel as tourists arrive for the weekend.

The station is patrolled by armed police and other security staff.

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