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Letter bombs hit Dutch firms in extortion bid: police

AFP  |  The Hague 

A suspected blackmailer believed to have sent two letter bombs which exploded at offices in the Netherlands on Wednesday has demanded payment in bitcoins, Dutch police said.

No one was hurt in the blasts in the mailroom of an ABN AMRO bank office in Amsterdam and an office of the Japanese copier firm Ricoh in the eastern town of Kerkrade, near the German border.

"Payment of bitcoins is required in the extortion letter" sent with the bombs, Dutch police said in a statement, referring to the virtual currency. The sender had threatened to send further explosive packages if payment was not made, the Dutch agency ANP reported.

Police said they "strongly take into account" the possibility that Wednesday's blasts were linked to at least seven letter bombs sent to seemingly random targets in the Netherlands in late December and early January.

The targets then included hotels, service stations and the central debt collecting agency.

A police spokesman said an employee at ABN AMRO "heard a hissing sound" coming from a letter and threw it away "after which a slight bang occurred." Ricoh said in a statement that "fortunately there were no injuries, but the people involved were of course very shocked."

A third suspected letter bomb found at an ABN AMRO branch in the southern city of Maastricht later turned out not to contain explosives but a computer mouse, police said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Wed, February 12 2020. 23:52 IST