Several dozen people have been brought to safety out of the Apple store on Amsterdam’s Leidseplein on Tuesday evening, where an armed robber is thought to be holding one person hostage.
Earlier reports suggested two hostage takers may have been involved in the standoff, but media outlets now say one person and one hostage are involved.
Social media footage shows one man in camouflage gear with a gun and a second man, whose arms appear to be tied behind his back. In one photo, both men are seated on stools. In others, the man in army clothing has one arm round the neck of the other, as he gestures at Apple equipment.
Tram services were diverted round the area, which was sealed off by police in all directions. People in cafes and hotels on the square, as well as local residents, were urged to stay indoors.
Police now say ‘several dozen people’ have been able to leave the building but did not say how this was done or how many people are involved. They are being escorted to a police station to give statements.
One person told news website Nu.nl that staff had locked themselves into the store canteen to keep safe.
Both staff and shoppers were on upper floors of the store when the armed robbery took place.
According to local broadcaster AT5, eyewitnesses heard several shots soon after the stand-off started, but this has not yet been confirmed.
Police have also urged people not to share footage online out of concern for the safety of those involved and police officers.
The incident started at around 5.40 pm when eyewitnesses AT5 that shop staff rushed out of the building in a panic. ‘Police were running around in a big group with guns pointed at the Apple store,’ Tim Wagemakers, who works at the nearby Balie debating centre said.
Shortly before 7pm, police confirmed that there was someone with a gun in the store. ‘The police are present with a large number of specialists to get the situation under control,’ police said.
The emergency services, explosives experts and the military police are on standby, Nu.said. Police, justice ministry officials and deputy mayor Rutget Groot Wassink are closely monitoring the situation. Mayor Femke Halsema is currently abroad.
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