(AP) THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Suspects holed up in a house under police assault Wednesday threw a hand grenade, injuring three officers conducting the terrorism-related raid.
Authorities closed air space for small planes over the city as part of the operation.
Hague Chief Prosecutor Han Moraal said the raid was part of a “continuing investigation into terrorism,” but would not confirm whether it was related to the Nov. 2 killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an alleged Islamic radical.
Suspects were still inside the building, Hague Police Chief Gerard Bouwman said at a press conference, and confirmed that police and the suspects had exchanged gunfire.
“At the moment of assault, a hand grenade was thrown at the arrest team,” Bouwman said. “It exploded and several officers were hurt.”
Mayor Wim Deetman said negotiators were trying to end the standoff peacefully.
Several city blocks were cordoned off in a mostly immigrant neighborhood near The Hague (news – web sites)’s Holland Spoor train station. The building was surrounded by police in riot gear, fire engines, ambulances and SWAT teams.
Bouwman said one of the injured police officers had been briefly treated and sent home, while the other two remained hospitalized, one with serious injuries.
“No vital organs were hurt, but he suffered considerable injuries,” Bouwman said.
Sylvia Cordia, 42, who lives across the street from the house, said she saw several explosions.
“I saw one policeman crumble to the ground and another was dragged away to safety,” she said, adding that the suspects shouted threats in broken Dutch when the police asked them to surrender.
“There were several people in the house, and I heard a man yelling ‘I’ll chop your head off’ and yelling profanities,” she said.
Photographers captured images of a man of Asian descent wearing only boxer shorts being dragged from the building and escorted away, but police would not confirm the apparent arrest.
There have been more than a dozen arson attacks in the Netherlands against churches and mosques since Van Gogh’s killing in Amsterdam more than a week ago. An Islamic school in Eindhoven was bombed Monday night, and another in Uden was burned down Tuesday. No injuries were reported.
Van Gogh had received death threats after the release of his most recent film about the treatment of women under Islam.
Six suspects, believed to be members of a terrorist group, are being held in custody, including the alleged killer, 26-year-old Mohammed Bouyeri, who holds dual Dutch and Moroccan nationality.
Prime Minister Balkenende said he was “concerned about the hardening climate in the Netherlands” and condemned the cycle of reprisals.
“We have to utterly reject this violence, all together, because we’re being un-Dutch,” he said.