COVID Testing Site Damaged by ‘Insane’ Explosion

The blast, which police said was deliberate, shattered windows at the testing facility north of Amsterdam. Dutch politicians condemned the incident, the second such attack in months.
COVID Testing Site Hit by Explosion in ‘Deliberate Attack’
Forensic investigators search for evidence after an explosion at a COVID-19 testing centre in the town of Bovenkarpsel. Photo: ARIS OIKONOMOU/AFP via Getty Images

An explosion took place at a COVID testing site north of Amsterdam on Wednesday, in what Dutch police said was a deliberate attack and the country’s prime minister called an “unacceptable” incident.

The blast in the early hours of the morning shattered windows at the facility in the town of Bovenkarspel, 40 miles north of Amsterdam, which is one of the areas worst affected by the coronavirus. There are no reports of any injuries.

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The incident is the second such attack on a testing facility in the Netherlands, after a group of young protesters torched a testing site in the fishing village of Urk in January.

Police said a metal cylinder used in the explosion had been recovered from the test site. “Something like that doesn’t just happen by accident,” police spokesperson Menno Hartenberg told the Reuters news agency.

The Netherlands experienced a surge in COVID cases throughout the winter, leading to the government imposing strict lockdown measures. All non-essential businesses have been closed since mid-December, and anger and criticism has grown at the government for their handling of the pandemic.

In January, nightly curfews were introduced for the first time since the second world war, in effect from 9PM to 4.30AM. Protests and violent riots ensued, and hundreds of people were subsequently arrested.

The Netherlands is currently being administered by an interim administration, after the entire government resigned over a child benefits scandal. Prime Minister Mark Rutte and his cabinet are only serving in a caretaker capacity ahead of a general election scheduled to take place on the 17th of March.

Rutte condemned the apparent attack on the testing facility in Bovenkarspel, which he called “really terrible, really shameful.” He added that that employees at test sites are working "very hard to keep us safe, protect our country.”

Dutch Health Minister Hugo de Jonge was more direct, calling the incident “insane.”

"For more than a year, we have been leaning on these people on the front lines and now this” he wrote on Twitter.