Blast at Dutch COVID Test Centre Appears Intentional, Police Say

A coronavirus testing centre in the Netherlands was intentionally targeted, Dutch police said, after an explosion at the site, Al Jazeera reports. The blast on Wednesday in Bovenkarspel, a northern town, shattered windows but caused no injuries, police from the province of North Holland said in a statement. An explosives team was on site to examine the device, police in North Holland province said.

The metal remains of the explosive were found in front of the building; the device “must have been placed” there, police spokesman Menno Hartenberg told Reuters news agency.

“Something like that doesn’t just happen by accident, it has to be laid,” he said, adding the device was about 10cm by 10cm (four inches by four inches).

There was one security guard inside the building when the explosion took place, but that person was unharmed.

The police have also established cordons and secured the site for investigation. Law enforcement officers specified that explosives were to blame, and suggested that the detonation was intentional. Police spokesman told Reuters the explosive “must have been placed” on the site.

“We can’t tell for sure what the intention was of the one who placed the explosive. We can’t tell before we get them, of course,” Hartenberg told Sputnik on Wednesday, when asked if the police believe this could be a terrorist attack.

Health Minister Hugo de Jonge described the incident as an “insane” act.

“For more than a year we have been leaning on these people on the front lines and now this,” he tweeted.

The Bovenkarspel region, where the incident took place, has been known for a sharp increase in new COVID-19 cases over the past several days.

This has been at least the second time a coronavirus testing centre in the Netherlands has been targeted. In January, a coronavirus testing centre in the nearby town of Urk was set on fire by rioters opposed to the country’s lockdown.

The lockdown measures sparked protests and civil unrest throughout the Netherlands, including clashes between riot police and protesters in Amsterdam in several other cities, where looting occurred. Dozens of people were arrested.

The curfew, in force from 9 pm to 4.30 am until at least 15 March, is the first in the Netherlands since the Second World War. It was ordered to be stopped last month by a court in the Hague, which said the government had abused its emergency powers by implementing it. But the government appealed and subsequently rushed legislation through parliament to give the curfew a stronger legal backing.

The country has officially recorded more than 1.1 million coronavirus cases and 15,775 deaths, in a country with a population of around 17 million.