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Possible terror threat foiled in Amsterdam

DUTCH police said yesterday they were questioning six men and a woman who were arrested following an anonymous tip of a terrorist threat against a popular shopping area in Amsterdam.

The warning came in a call from an unregistered phone in Belgium, and appeared linked to the train bombings in Madrid exactly five years earlier. Police said one of those detained is a relative of an Islamic extremist involved in the Madrid attacks who committed suicide a few weeks after the attacks, as police closed in.

The Madrid bombings killed 191 people and wounded 2,000 others.

Police said all those detained were Dutch nationals of Moroccan descent. Their identities were not released.

Authorities were to decide late yesterday whether to keep them in detention until they are brought before a judge.

The tip came on Wednesday night, Police Commissioner Bernard Welten said. On Thursday morning, police sealed off the area around a large Ikea furniture store and warehouse, and a nearby street of popular electronics and sporting goods stores adjacent to a football stadium.

The stores remained shut on Thursday but were given the all-clear to reopen yesterday. Police kept a strong presence in the area.

Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said the threat was a warning for the country.

"This shows that we must remain alert for threats to our security," he said.

A concert by the American rock group The Killers was postponed on Thursday night because the venue was near the stadium.

It was rescheduled for May 29, the band announced on its Website.

Searches and interrogations on Thursday provided no information that a serious threat remained, police said in a statement.

Amsterdam Mayor Job Cohen said no explosives were immediately found during the searches.

The Dutch anti-terror coordination office said the country's threat level remained unchanged at "substantial," the second-highest on a four-step scale.

The level has been unchanged for months, with experts warning that the Netherlands remains a terror target mainly because of an anti-Islam law maker's film criticizing the Quran.


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