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Netherlands: Explosive increase in illegal hand grenades

Hand grenades are becoming an increasingly popular in rising gangland violence in the Netherlands and the number of incidents involving the explosives has shot up in the past two years.

Published: August 28, 2019, 6:51 am

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    Violence with illegal hand grenades in the Netherlands is growing explosively. There are an increasing number of such incidents in the Netherlands with illegal hand grenades.

    More incidents have been registered in the past year and a half than in the complete ten years before. Researchers call the trend worrying and do not expect it to decline soon. And Amsterdam has not been spared the scourge that poses a threat to its inhabitants.

    Broadcaster RTL Nieuws reported on Tuesday that 23 incidents involving hand grenades were registered in the first four months of this year, compared with 42 in 2018 as a whole and just a handful of cases in the previous years.

    In total, researchers from the University of Leiden have registered 117 cases in the past 11 years.

    In most of the cases the grenade was left outside a cafe, club, shop or private home, or attached to the door handle.

    In 21 cases people were directly attacked or threatened with a grenade, resulting in nine people being injured, several seriously. Judges in the Dutch capital said earlier this month that people convicted of crimes involving explosives would face tougher sentences.

    According to researcher and criminologist Marieke Liem the Netherlands is facing rising danger. “For example, we see a huge increase in hand grenade violence in Sweden, and there were deaths. Including bystanders. If the trend continues, you could expect that there will also be fatal casualties here.”

    The researchers did not want to speculate about the reason for the explosive increase, possibly because of the fact that it may reflect on immigrants, a sensitive topic. According to them, the registration of such incidents by the police also leaves something to be desired, so that little is known about the motives.

    It is a headache for far-left Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema, who is responsible for public order and security. According to the municipality, the problems have taken on a structural character. “These incidents have a major impact on the affected entrepreneurs, but also pose a major danger to local residents and passers-by.”

    There are suspicions that hand grenades are regularly used as a means of extortion and intimidation. No fewer than two thirds of the incidents targeted a company. For example, grenades were found at several catering establishments, clubs and stores. As a result, such places were closed for weeks by order of the municipality, which led to a number of bankruptcies.

    Temporary cameras have been put up and buildings closed. By doing so, Amsterdam hopes to prevent new incidents. Given the fact that closure led to bankruptcies among victims, the latter measure is controversial however. The municipality says it is examining the situation per incident. Additional measures are being investigated with the police, the Public Prosecution Service and the Tax Authorities, the city said.

    The incidents that Liem and co-investigator Katharina Krüsselmann investigated took place in 45 different municipalities throughout the country, from Zwolle to Vianen. But especially in Amsterdam, the use of illegal hand grenades is on the rise. Almost a third of all incidents were in the capital.

    Earlier this month, the Amsterdam court decided to harshly penalize criminals who are caught for placing explosives in order to send a signal. If you leave a grenade on the street in Amsterdam, a possible 18-month prison sentence will be imposed, for which it is 6 months in the rest of the country.

    However, perpetrators must be found for this. And that turns out to be difficult with these incidents. Only one in five incidents in 2018 was resolved.

    Sweden’s national police unit tasked with protection against bombs in Malmö, has advised inhabitants to beware of unexploded hand grenades which are believed to be spread throughout the city, reported news agency TT.

    The Nordic country has experienced a sharp rise in explosions in recent years, predominantly related to conflicts between warring criminal gangs. The use of explosives in Sweden is currently at a level that is unique in the world for a state not at war, according to police.

    In addition, fatal shootings per capita in Sweden are now considerably higher than the European average. The country also has one of the smallest police forces per capita in the EU.

    Some 50 explosions were reported in the first three months of 2019, which is an average of more than one every other day. Over the same period in 2018, a record number of more than three blasts were registered per week.

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