Amsterdam Apple Store hostage taker asked for €200mil in cryptocurrency

This picture shows a bullet impact on the shop window of the Apple's flagship store in central Amsterdam on Feb 23, 2022 the day after a man with a firearm who held several people hostage in the store was overpowered after a siege lasting several hours. — AFP

THE HAGUE: A man who held several people hostage at an Apple store in Amsterdam demanded €200mil (RM949.69mil) in cryptocurrency before he was taken to hospital “seriously injured”, police said on Feb 23.

The man, identified as a 27-year-old from Amsterdam, entered the Apple store carrying a firearm in the busy Leidseplein neighbourhood late Tuesday afternoon, sparking a tense five-hour long ordeal.

The camouflage-wearing assailant held one man hostage, a 44-year-old British national, according to reports, while four others hid in a closet.

It was initially feared the suspect was holding several people hostage, but he was reportedly not aware that several more people were in hiding in the building.

In an overnight press conference, police chief Frank Paauw said the suspect demanded €200mil (RM949.69mil) in cryptocurrency before he was eventually apprehended by police.

The dramatic ordeal finally ended around 10.30 (2130 GMT) when the hostage asked for water. He left the building and then ran, prompting the suspect to chase after him.

The suspect was then hit hard by a police car before a robot checked him for explosives as he lay on the road, painted by laser sights from police snipers.

“A car from the special forces reacted very adequately and alertly,” Paauw said hailing the hostage for his bravery.

“The hostage has played a hero role. In a few split seconds he escaped this hostage situation, otherwise it would have been an even longer night and nasty night.”

Around 70 people in total were evacuated from the building and the area around the store was cordoned off.

The suspect was taken to hospital “seriously injured”, Paauw said, and investigations into the incident are ongoing.

Police were called at about 5.30pm (1630 GMT) on Tuesday about an armed man in the Apple store, and images suggested he might have been wearing an explosive vest.

Several special police units were deployed with the first to arrive targeted by an automatic weapon, Paauw said.

He later tweeted the man did not have explosives on him.

All Apple stores across the Netherlands were closed Wednesday, and the site of Tuesday’s hostage taking will remain closed Thursday, the company said.

Leidseplein is popular with tourists and known for its lively bars and cafes. The area was quickly closed and the restaurants, bars and theatres were shut after the hostage taking. – AFP

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