Explosion at Rotterdam coffeeshop brings total to around 50; Amsterdam man arrested
An explosive went off at a coffeeshop on Witte de Withstraat in Rotterdam city center early on Monday morning, bringing the total number of blasts in the city to around 50 this year. The police arrested a 26-year-old man from Amsterdam on Sunday for possible involvement in these attacks on Rotterdam homes and stores.
The latest explosion happened at 4:30 a.m. According to Rijnmond, the blast made a big dent in the coffee shop’s roller shutter and shattered a window across the street. The explosion was heard in a wide area in the city's center. The police cordoned off the street for investigation and called on witnesses to come forward.
The coffeeshop was also the target of an attack on April 13. Two men tried to set off a firebomb in front of the roller shutter. They managed to get a jerry can with fuel alight. But passersby extinguished the fire before it could set off an adjacent explosive, according to Rijnmond.
The motive for the almost nightly explosives remains unclear, but Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb expects that they are drug-related. The authorities are intercepting a lot of drugs in the port of Rotterdam, frustrating the criminals behind the trafficking. According to the mayor, these criminals try to intimidate each other with shootings and explosives.
The municipality of Rotterdam and the police are increasing security in places where explosions and shootings recently happened. Last week alone, there was a shooting, an explosion, and a foiled attack on Van Speykstraat and four incidents on Crooswijkseweg.
The police arrested a 26-year-old man from Amsterdam on Sunday for possible involvement in the attacks. He is in custody for questioning. The police previously also arrested three other suspects, including two boys, 14 and 15, caught in the act of trying to set off a firebomb at an apartment building on Van Speykstraat.