Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport partly evacuated in security alert

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SHAFAQNA – Dozens of heavily armed military police flooded into Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport on Tuesday night, evacuating part of the busy travel hub and arresting one man during a four-hour security alert.

The incident came as the Netherlands has been on high alert following the 22 March attack on Brussels airport and metro system in which 32 people were killed.

“Police have evacuated part of the airport plaza and the adjacent Sheraton Hotel and arrested one person amid a suspicious situation,” airport spokeswoman Danielle Timmer said.

Witnesses saw heavily armed Dutch special military police, wearing balaclavas, patrolling the airport while passengers watched from behind security tape.

Part of the airport was cordoned off for about four hours while a helicopter hovered overhead. The alert was lifted at around 1:30am (2330 GMT).

It remained unclear exactly what had triggered concerns, or who had been arrested, but a Dutch news reports said nothing dangerous had been found in a search of the arrested man’s luggage.

Military police spokesman Alfred Ellwanger said that “around 9:45pm a man was arrested on the square in front of the main entrance to the airport’s plaza”.

No flights were disrupted and trains continuing arriving as normal at the underground station, which links the huge travel hub to the rest of the Netherlands.

“Nobody is telling us anything about what’s going on. My car is in the parking garage and I can’t get it out. I’m a diabetic and I need my insulin,” said a 72-year-old Dutchman.

Schiphol, which lies about 16km (10m) southwest of central Amsterdam, is one of Europe’s busiest travel hubs with about 50 million visitors passing through each year.

“Part of Schiphol is not accessible due to an incident. Police is investigating the matter. For now, air traffic has not been affected,” the airport said on its official Twitter account.

There has been concern in the Netherlands about whether it could targetedby terrorists in the wake of the attacks in Belgium and France.

As a precaution, the government stepped up security at national airports and train stations and tightened controls on its southern border with Belgium.

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