Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Royal Parade Attack Leaves Netherlands Feeling Vulnerable

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Royal Parade Attack Leaves Netherlands Feeling Vulnerable

Article excerpt

A gruesome attack Thursday on a parade honoring the Netherlands' royal family has left seven dead, including the perpetrator, and has deeply shaken the nation's bedrock values of trust and security. The middle-aged man who drove a small car into a packed crowd of bystanders before crashing into a stone monument, narrowly missed an open-topped bus carrying Queen Beatrix and members of her family in Apeldoorn, 60 miles southeast of Amsterdam.

Prosecutors dropped charges against the driver, identified in the local media as Karst Tates, after he was confirmed dead from injuries sustained during the crash. Officials confirmed the attack was premeditated and likely aimed at the royal family.

"From the first contact we had with the accused, there are indications that this was a deliberately-planned act," prosecutor Ludo Goossens told reporters.

Very little is known about Mr. Tates, though police say he had no previous criminal record. Dutch media reported Friday that Tates had recently lost his job as a security guard. He was due to leave his apartment Friday because he could no longer afford the rent. No explosives were found in either his car or home.

The incident took place during festivities for Queen's Day, a popular national holiday celebrated on April 30.

Although security had been on high alert, with 700 police officers deployed to the normally quiet eastern town, the attack is rekindling debate on the security of public officials, seven years after a self-confessed radical animal rights activist assassinated in broad daylight the charismatic, anti-immigration politician Pim Fortuyn. Mr. Fortuyn's assassination was followed by the 2004 murder of film director Theo van Gogh by a Muslim extremist.

"The Dutch take pride in openness," says Uri Rosenthal, who directs The Hague-based Institute for Safety, Security, and Crisis Management. "If you look closely at the assassination of Fortuyn and that of Van Gogh, then you have to say that the times of cabinet ministers openly traveling by bike are more or less over. …

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