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article imageDutch boost media security after van rams newspaper offices

By AFP     Jun 26, 2018 in World

Dutch officials moved Tuesday to boost security around media organisations, after a van deliberately rammed into the offices of a top daily in the second attack on a newspaper in less than a week.

Police were investigating after the white Volkswagen Caddy van crashed into the headquarters of the country's best-selling newspaper, De Telegraaf, before dawn on Tuesday. There were no injuries.

"This morning about 4:00 am a delivery van was driven into the facade of a publishing house in Basisweg" in Amsterdam, police said in a statement.

The building houses the head office of the tabloid De Telegraaf, which focuses on sports, crime and celebrity gossip.

The paper released security camera footage which clearly showed the van twice being driven straight into the building's facade. The driver then got out, poured something into the back and set it alight, with the vehicle exploding in a ball of flame.

The driver then fled the scene, in what is believed to be a dark-coloured Audi car. Police have launched a manhunt and are appealing for information.

Fire services were quickly on the scene, and dawn revealed the building's huge glass-fronted facade had been completely charred and reduced to twisted metal.

"We will not let ourselves be intimidated," said editor-in-chief Paul Jansen, adding it was too early to speculate who was behind the incident.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the attack was a "slap in the face to the free press and to Dutch democracy", adding in a tweet that his government was "alert and vigilant".

The incident comes after a man fired an anti-tank weapon into another building in the same Sloterdijk area of Amsterdam which houses media organisations, including the weekly newspaper, Panorama.

A 41-year-old man has been arrested over the attack last Thursday which also caused no injuries. Police identified the man as a leader of a local motorbike gang

Amsterdam city authorities said they were now going to boost security, including adding more surveillance cameras around buildings housing media organisations.

"Although there is nothing to indicate that another incident will happen, nothing can be ruled out," the municipality said in a statement, adding police believed the attacks could be related to "organised crime".

De Telegraaf said the van had not been able to penetrate its offices as the front windows were made of special safety glass.

But the Dutch news agency ANP reported that a concrete block had recently been removed from the front to allow a construction work, which may have allowed the van to hurtle into the building.

The French organisation Reporters Without Borders condemned Tuesday's attack on De Telegraaf and "urged the Dutch authorities to launch a full investigation to identify and punish the perpetrators."

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