Netherlands nightclub standoff ends with hostages freed, suspect in custody

Police said there was no indication of a ‘terrorist motive’ after four people were held in the town of Ede.

Firefighters gather in Ede, the Netherlands, where multiple people were held hostage in a building [Aleksandar Furtula/AP Photo]

An hours-long standoff at a nightclub in the central Netherlands has ended with the release of all the hostages and a suspect in custody, Dutch police said.

“The last hostage has just been released. One person was arrested,” police said on X on Saturday.

The man walked out of the club in the town of Ede, before being ordered by armed police to kneel with his hands on his head. He was then handcuffed and led into a waiting police car.

Earlier, three young hostages walked out of the club with their hands above their heads. A fourth person was released shortly before the suspect was arrested. The hostages were all workers at the club.

Police had said earlier that several people were taken hostage in the building in the centre of Ede, located 85km (53 miles) southeast of Amsterdam.

“We are exceptionally happy that it ended this way. That the victims came out safely and that we were able to arrest this suspect without using violence,” said Marthyne Kunst, head of the regional public prosecutor’s office.

Dutch hostage
Police stand near the Cafe Petticoat nightclub, where people were taken hostage in Ede, the Netherlands, on March 30, 2024 [Piroschka Van De Wouw/Reuters]

There was no immediate word on a motive, but police and prosecutors said they did not believe it was a “terrorist” incident.

Police said the hostage-taker was armed with knives, and a backpack he carried was being examined amid reports he had threatened to use explosives.

Kunst told reporters that the man was known to law enforcement authorities and had previously been convicted of threatening behaviour. She gave no further details, citing privacy and the ongoing investigation.

The suspect’s identity was not released. Ede Mayor Rene Verhulst said he was a Dutch citizen.

Authorities also released no details about the four hostages.

Verhulst said that after an emotionally charged morning, “everything is fine. The hostage-taker is arrested by the police and they are now speaking to him. And the hostages are free, they are very emotional.”

‘Confused’ man

Police said they had received reports of a potential hostage situation at 5:15am (04:15 GMT) on Saturday at the Cafe Petticoat, with local media saying a “confused” man burst in as staff were clearing up after a party.

Police spokesman Anne Jan Oosterheert said officers were on the scene within minutes, opening negotiations immediately with the man.

“Luckily, that all went well,” he said, declining to offer details of the negotiations.

The incident prompted a major deployment including riot police and explosives experts.

Police cleared the centre of the town and evacuated the residents of some 150 buildings near the cafe. Trains were diverted away from the town as a precaution.

Images from the scene showed police and firefighters on the streets in a cordoned-off area.

The Netherlands has seen a series of attacks but not on the scale of other European countries, such as France or the United Kingdom.

In 2019, the country was stunned by a shooting spree on a tram in the city of Utrecht that killed four people.

Source: News Agencies