Apr 01, 2023 at 04:59Update: 3 minutes ago
The number of attacks with explosions is increasing at an alarming rate and seems hardly to be brought under control. Young offenders are prepared to place firecracker bombs in residential areas for little money and that has major consequences. Rotterdam in particular is ravaged: the 26th explosion of this year already happened on Friday.
When a then 58-year-old woman responds to the tinkling of glass in her home on Schaarweide in Rotterdam, she is seriously injured a few moments later. After a brick first flew through her window, an incendiary bomb followed that exploded in her presence.
The bomb is actually intended for someone else, but was thrown inside her by mistake. We are writing 2021. The problem with attacks with explosions is not that big yet, but it does claim innocent victims. The perpetrators were never caught.
Two years later, the problem has become many times bigger. Where 12 explosions still took place in Rotterdam in 2021, there were already 49 a year later. And in 2023 the counter will already be heading towards thirty in the first three months.
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Attacks can be linked to drug crime
The majority of those attacks take place in South Rotterdam. The Rotterdam district has a lot of poverty and thus forms a rewarding environment for money-waving criminals. For the inhabitants, the temptations of the port of Rotterdam with its cocaine imports and the money that can be made with it are never far away. Just like the associated problems.
Because although clients manage to stay out of the picture and the cause of the conflicts is not always clear, a police analysis of the attacks in 2021 and 2022 shows that the majority are drug-related. A family quarrel, extortion or another criminal conflict can also be the reason.
And as long as the cocaine continues to flow into the port, the problems with the attacks will continue, says Wouter van Osnabrugge of the criminal investigation department in Rotterdam. “Then we are really only concerned with countering effects,” explains the chief of detectives, while commenting that the backgrounds to the attacks in 2023 are not all clear.
“If we do not change the fact that people are underprivileged and are tempted to earn their income in this way (drug trafficking, ed.), then such conflicts will always exist,” the chief of detectives sighs. “In fact, we mop with the tap open. That tap is just open very hard.”
Attacks are easy offenses to commit
In his office in the police station on Zuidplein, he points to a board with a list of priorities. At the top is excessive violence, which includes shelling of homes and explosions. The balance is increasingly tipping towards explosions. It eats away at the limited capacity of his detective team.
Such offenses are easy to commit. Criminals make good use of the illegal cobras that they can easily get their hands on. At the end of last year, more than five hundred were found in a building in Rotterdam.
The fireworks, which are available in different variants, are popular because of the large amount of flash powder. The more flash powder, the greater the power of the firework. Tied together, combined with a fuel such as petrol or taken apart and processed into home-made bombs, the cobras lead to shattered doors and blown windows.
The arrested suspects of the attacks are often young. The amount for which they are willing to set off – in many cases around 1,000 euros – is negligible for clients.
And when the police ask questions, they remain silent. The question is whether perpetrators even know why they have been sent on their way. They are often approached via social media, so out of sight of the police and the judiciary. Once convicted, the sentence for a minor does not exceed two years. And there are known cases in which perpetrators go wrong again.
Here an explosion took place in broad daylight. Photo: Police
Police speak of a huge social problem
The police speak of a huge social problem and consider it important to work as a society on the morals of these young people. “Preventive programs aimed at youth are essential in this regard,” emphasizes a spokesperson. The police would like to see the sentences for possession of cobras go up.
Another problem is that not only are the suspects silent, but the targets don’t always show the back of their tongue either. It reduces the chance that the police can solve such cases.
“But if we solve things – and that will certainly happen – are we there?”, Van Osnabrugge wonders aloud. The answer comes from the chief of detectives himself: “If you can get hold of firearms and explosives or raw materials so easily, then of course you won’t solve this. Then this will always be the case.”
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