Heavily-armed military police evacuated part of Amsterdam’s busy Schiphol airport late Tuesday, arresting one person when a security alert was sparked, officials told AFP.
The incident comes at a time when the Netherlands has been on high alert following the March 22 attack on the Brussels airport and metro in which 32 people were killed.
“Police have evacuated part of the airport plaza and the adjacent Sheraton Hotel and arrested one person amid a suspicious situation,” airport spokeswoman Danielle Timmer told AFP, adding she had no further information.
Television images showed heavily armed Dutch special military police, wearing balaclavas, patrolling the airport while passengers anxiously watched from behind security tape.
Military police spokesman Alfred Ellwanger told AFP that “around 9:45 pm (1945 GMT) a man was arrested on the square in front of the main entrance to the airport’s plaza”.
“The bomb disposal squad is also on the scene and they are checking the man’s luggage,” he said.
Ellwanger added no flights were disrupted at the busy airport and trains had been arriving as normal at the underground station, which links the huge travel hub to the rest of the Netherlands.
It was not immediately clear how many people were evacuated when military police cordoned off the area, but Ellwanger said there were only a few departures and arrivals still scheduled for the day.
Schiphol, which lies just outside the Dutch capital Amsterdam, is one of Europe’s busiest travel hubs with about 50 million visitors passing through each year.
“Part of Schiphol is not accessible due to an incident. Police is investigating the matter. For now, air traffic has not been affected,” the airport said on its official Twitter account.
A spokesperson for the 407-room Sheraton hotel, which is linked to the airport via a covered walkway, reached by AFP declined to comment.
Schiphol’s busy modern plaza and entrance is usually crowded with passengers and visitors many of them enjoying a meal at one of the many eateries, or perusing the shops, many of them selling upmarket clothes and cosmetics.
Tensions have been high since last month’s attacks in neighbouring Belgium, which like the November attacks in Paris, were claimed by the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group.
One person was also arrested at nearby Leiden railway station for raising a “false alarm”, a spokeswoman for The Hague police told AFP, but she added that incident was not related to the Schiphol investigation.
There has been concern in the Netherlands about whether it could potentially be targeted in terror attack, although Dutch politicians have stressed that they are working to keep the country safe.
As a precaution, the government stepped up security at national airports and train stations and tightened controls on its southern border with Belgium in the wake of the Brussels attacks.