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WIRE: 09/27/2001 9:18 am ET
Bomb Alert Closes Dutch Traffic Tunnels
By Paul Gallagher AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch police closed tunnels and threw up roadblocks in Amsterdam and Rotterdam on Thursday after a warning that cars packed with explosives would blow up inside and cause rush hour carnage.
Amsterdam's Coentunnel and Zeeburgertunnel were briefly shut and Rotterdam's Beneluxtunnel and Botlektunnel were partially closed off. Traffic slowed to a trickle as armed police in balaclavas made spot checks.
Dutch news agency ANP on Wednesday received an anonymous letter warning of attacks the following morning.
The letter said that three stolen cars loaded with a mixture of sulphur, nitrate and oil would drive into tunnels in the country's two biggest cities, and would explode at around 0600 GMT.
"The intention is to cause as many victims as possible because it is hoped that the tunnels will collapse," said a copy of the letter, obtained by Reuters.
"I back the armed struggle against the pernicious West but in this case there would be so many victims that I feel I must warn you," the letter said.
"I cannot say who I am or how I obtained this information, because that would endanger me and my family, but I ask you to take this letter very seriously," it read.
Officials said there was no immediate evidence linking the threat to militant Islamic groups. Such groups are considered responsible for the September 11 suicide hijack attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and Pentagon near Washington.
They said no arrests had been made.
Airspace above part of Amsterdam was also closed for more than three hours from 7:30 a.m. (0530 GMT), causing air traffic delays, officials said.
The Netherlands has already tightened security in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
Dutch police earlier this month arrested four people in the port city of Rotterdam suspected of belonging to a radical Islamic network.
The warning was the second major bomb scare in the Netherlands in as many weeks. Former Vice President Al Gore was among 4,000 people evacuated from a congress center in The Hague last week after officials received a bomb threat. (Additional reporting by Matt Daily, Otti Thomas and Wendel Broere)
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-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 27, 2001