Blast Rocks Turkey’s Dutch Embassy

THE HAGUE (AP)–A man detonated a firebomb at an entrance to the Turkish Embassy in The Hague Tuesday–causing a small fire but no injuries and little damage–Turkey’s ambassador said.

The suspect–who apparently pretended to be picking up a visa–fled from the scene and was arrested sometime after the blast went off–around 11:30 a.m. local time (1030 GMT)–said Frank van Beers of the Internal Affairs Ministry.

The suspect’s identity was also unknown and city officials in The Hague declined to comment. Explosives experts were investigating what the package contained.

"I have understood someone has been arrested," Van Beers said–without giving further details.

Turkey’s Ambassador to The Hague–Tacan Ildem–described the man to private NTV television.

"A man with dark features and wearing a black jacket entered the embassy. He was not speaking Turkish–he was speaking some Dutch. He exploded the bomb . . . then he managed to escape," Ildem said.

"Luckily–no one was injured in the embassy," he said.

There was no visible damage to the building–fire department spokesman Marcel Koene said: "There was a very small fire and we extinguished it."

Buildings adjacent to the embassy were evacuated and surrounding streets were cordoned off. Explosives and anti-terrorism teams were on the scene–Dutch television reported.

Edith Lommerse–a spokeswoman for The Hague police–said police were investigating.

The Turkish Embassy is located in downtown The Hague–the seat of the Dutch government–near parliament buildings and several other embassies.

Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the United States–Dutch intelligence agencies warned that the city’s international institutes–including the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons–could be possible targeted for attack.

It was not clear why the Turkish Embassy had been targeted. Turkish authorities in other countries have been attacked by Kurdish rebels fighting for an independent Kurdish state.

There is a large Kurdish community in the Netherlands–estimated to number up to 70,000–but incidents are unusual.

In February 1999–about 250 Kurds protesting the arrest of Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan occupied the Greek Ambassador’s residence in The Hague and took three hostages–including the ambassador 8-year-old son. The hostages were released unharmed after a 24-hour standoff.

Bombings are also extremely rare in the Netherlands. A group calling itself the Revolutionary Anti-Racist Action carried out several attacks in the early 1990s against government buildings–causing substantial damage–but no injuries.

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