Written by By Sarah, CNN Rotterdam, Netherlands.
It began Thursday with a false alarm at the security desk in Rotterdam’s largest shopping mall, Asiel. The false alarm signified a bomb threat from a man who said his vehicle was parked next to the forecourt but he was in no danger, police said in a statement.
The experience left the security staff “no doubt that they might encounter major economic problems in the following hours and days, and especially if they react too hastily and needlessly detain certain types of people,” the statement said.
Hours later, officers with the anti-terror unit found that the man was indeed not operating a bomb. But the raid had triggered a terrorist alert among the crowds. By then, the mood had turned tense, and violent.
At around 12:30 a.m. local time on Friday, the city erupted in mob violence following a raid during which police seized cars, knives and bombs during a suspected terrorism raid.
11 officers were injured, while many more were pelted with bottles, fireworks and molotov cocktails, police said in a statement. Cocks were cut, and officials believe the first grenade may have exploded on the first floor above the police station.
The social tensions fueling the unrest have been boiling under the surface for months, and involved mainly immigrants from Morocco and Algeria, according to reports. Last month, police arrested more than 20 people for preparing attacks.
Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb had already announced a “pact of peace” after unrest in the spring. The Netherlands Government’s Security Coordinator was able to assist and hold a high-level meeting with law enforcement in the wake of the carnage, when tensions among the growing community escalated to the breaking point.