A 19-year-old wielding a gun forced his way into the studios of the Netherlands’ national broadcaster NOS on Thursday and demanded airtime, before he was quickly arrested, officials have said.
Dressed smartly in a black suit and tie, the Dutch citizen threatened a guard with a pistol, before entering the studio, witnesses said. He had hoped to address the nation during its most popular news broadcaster, but instead was led to an empty studio by a quick-thinking security guard before anyone was hurt.
An NOS1 broadcast at 8pm local time (7pm GMT) displayed a message reading “In connection with circumstances, no broadcast is available at this time”, and stayed off air for over an hour while police searched the building.
When the channel resumed programming, it showed the man pacing the studio as he held what appeared to be a black pistol behind his back.
Police quickly surrounded the NOS studios building, and those inside were evacuated from the premises in the central Dutch town of Hilversum, 20km (12miles) east of Amsterdam.
It was unclear how he passed through security, which was increased after the attacks in Paris earlier this month.
“This is taking too long,” the man said, before police stormed the studio, shouting: “Drop it! Drop it! And get on your knees!” The man the dropped the weapon, saying, “I dropped it. It's dropped”, and was put into handcuffs.
One reporter for NOS who spoke to the gunman said he had claimed to be from a “hackers collective”.
Officials later said the man lives in the central Dutch town of Pijnacker, near the university town Delft, declining to provide further details.
Police are currently questioning the young man, who could be charged with kidnapping, possession of a firearm and threatening people with a weapon, prosecutor Johan Bac said at a press conference.
The man's motive was unclear with the NOS footage showing him saying, “The things that are going to be said (pause) those are very large world affairs. We were hired by the security service.”
Police spokesman Christine Scholts said special-forces had finished sweeping the building for explosives and found nothing, adding investigators are attempting to determine “who this man is and what he wants,“ she said.
”He took the security guard hostage and said he wanted air time. If they didn't give it to him, he said there would be bombs in different places in the Netherlands that would explode if he didn't get time on TV,“ Scholts said.
The threats were reportedly also contained in a letter that the man took to the studio, a purported copy of which was aired by the RTL news channel but has not been verified.
”Realise that I am not on my own,“ it said. ”Furthermore, eight high explosives have been planted that contain radioactive material. If you don't take me to studio 8 to make my broadcast, we will be forced to step into action.” Police are currently investigating these claims.
Dutch Minister for Security and Justice Ivo Opstelten told the ANP national news agency the man appeared to have acted alone.
In the wake of attacks on the offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket in Paris this month, security has been tightened across Europe.
Based in at the main national broadcast park in Hilversum, NOS produces the most widely watched television newscast in the Netherlands and is based.
Security has been tight there since populist politician Pim Fortuyn was shot outside a studio in 2002.
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