Dutch police evacuate Paris train and arrest man

Heavily armed Dutch police drag a man from the Paris-bound train in Rotterdam after he was alleged to have boarded with a bomb. Picture: AP
Heavily armed Dutch police drag a man from the Paris-bound train in Rotterdam after he was alleged to have boarded with a bomb. Picture: AP
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DUTCH police have arrested a man who had locked himself inside a toilet aboard a Thalys train at Rotterdam central station.

Police ordered everyone off the Paris-bound train and evacuated seven station platforms yesterday.

Train operator Thalys said later in the day that police had the situation “under control” and passengers were not at risk.

According to a witness, the man who jumped on the train “had a bomb”. Once aboardhe locked himself in the restroom leading to the train having to be stopped and evacuated.

Last month passengers overpowered a gunman aboard an Amsterdam-Paris Thalys train in northern France.

It is not yet clear who the arrested man is nor why he acted as he did.

One passenger tweeted that the man had jumped aboard the train just before it began leaving.

Police said in tweets that the arrest went off without incident, although the man was taken to hospital because he had hyperventilated after his arrest, and one officer was hurt when he was bitten by a police dog.

Officers carried out a detailed search of the train and were undertsood to be going through a backpack which they believe belonged to the man.

No further information about the man was released.

Rail services to and from Rotterdam were severely disrupted, Dutch rail authorities said.

Thalys said it was allowing passengers to cancel or postpone journeys planned without charge.

Earlier, the high-speed rail provider said in a tweet: “Security forces have situation under control. No risk for our passengers.”

NOS state television pictures showed heavily armed police with protective shields and equipment scanning the train cars and searching inside.

Last week, in the wake of the Amsterdam-Paris Thalys train attack, European rail operators met interior and justice ministry officials to discuss whether to beef up train security in the European Union.

The consensus from those talks was that no disproportionate and costly security action should be taken that would hinder high-speed international rail traffic in the European Union.

This means it is unlikely that metal detectors would be installed in European stations and that passenger information would not be systematically collected.

Five million people use the trains every day in France, at some 3,000 stations – 230 of them linked to the TGV high-speed network.

For most of these passengers, the train is an essential part of their working life, with the huge advantage over planes that you can board them up to the moment before departure.

Requiring people to arrive half an hour early in order to get through security would strip rail travel of one of its essential assets.

Six passengers who thwarted the attack by a heavily-armed gunman on an Amsterdam to Paris high-speed train received France’s highest honour, the Legion d’Honneur.

French president Francois Hollande presented the award to US servicemen Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos, US student Anthony Sadler, and Briton Chris Norman in a ceremony at the Elysee Palace on 24 August. Moroccan national Ayoub El-Khazzani, 25, allegedly opened fire with a Kalashnikov assault rifle when the Thalys train was travelling near Arras on 21 August, before being tackled by Stone and Skarlatos, members of the US Air Force and US National Guard, respectively.

They were helped by their friend Sadler and 62-year-old British business consultant Norman.