Four people were killed and more than a dozen wounded on Thursday when a driver hurtled his car into a crowd at a parade in the town of Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, narrowly missing an open bus carrying Queen Beatrix and members of her family.
Dutch officials said the man had “acted deliberately” but they ruled out links with a terrorist group. “The driver is suspected of trying to attack the royal family,” a spokesperson for the Dutch police said, not giving additional details as to a possible motive.
The police immediately arrested the driver, who was trapped in his car as it crashed into a monument. Authorities declined to provide the driver’s name, but said he was a 38-year-old Dutchman who apparently acted alone and carried no weapons or explosives. The investigation into the attack was proceeding.
Television images of the parade showed police officers rushing toward wounded onlookers lying on the ground and members of the royal household atop an open bus looking stunned and raising their hands in horror. The police said that four people were killed and 13 wounded, five of them seriously.
Queen Beatrix, looking tense and shaken, later appeared on national television. “What began as a beautiful day has ended in a terrible drama which has shocked all of us,” she said. “We are speechless that such a terrible event could have happened.”
The attack raised a host of questions on how the driver could have broken through several police barricades before he drove into the large crowd and swerved toward the bus carrying the royal family, missing it by about ten yards, witnesses said.
Security, which used to be lax in the Netherlands, has become stricter in recent years since several public figures were killed on the streets. In Apeldoorn, where the Queen has her favorite palace and where the street festivities to celebrate Queen’s Day were taking place, numerous roads had been blocked off before the parade.
The sudden appearance of the small black car seemed the work of a prankster, witnesses said, until they saw people scooped up and being hurtled into the air.
Fred de Graaf, the mayor of Apeldoorn, said that eight of the wounded were in serious condition. All further Queen’s Day festivities were being canceled, he said. Holiday programs also were called off in Rotterdam, and more were likely to be canceled around the country, The Associated Press reported.