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Hostage taken in foiled robbery at Amsterdam Apple Store

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An armed robbery of the Amsterdam Apple Store has occurred, a situation that appears to also involve a man being held at gunpoint as a hostage.

At approximately 6 p.m. CET (12 p.m. eastern), two men in balaclavas left the Apple Store in Leidseplein, Amsterdam. On attempting to leave the store, the situation escalated after they spotted nearby police.

The two men then grabbed a bystander and took them hostage as they went back into the store, reports Het Parool. Footage published to social media show one of the men holding the hostage around the neck and waving around a handgun.

Witnesses claim shots have been fired nearby. According to AT5, police tweeted confirmation that a firearm was involved, and that many specialist units were dealing with the situation.

The Royal Marechaussee, the national gendarmerie of the Netherlands, is also on-site.

More police have arrived at the scene, including members of the Special Intervention Service (DSI), a tactical police unit, to tend to the situation.

Police have cordoned off the area, with traffic stopped and people in nearby buildings prevented from leaving due to the risk of attack. While members of the public were moved away from the area, there are thought to be around 70 people in the De Balie theater and cafe next to the Apple Store, with occupants kept to rooms towards the rear for safety.

Amsterdam police tweeted it is reluctant to provide information about the situation, so as to not disrupt efforts at the store. It also requested local residents and employees in the area to stay indoors.

A later tweet, at 7:42 pm CET, had the Amsterdam police asking people with a view of the Apple Store to “exercise restraint in publishing images or live streams,” citing safety concerns.

Two Apple Store employees who were in upper floors of the store at the time told De Telegraaf they were shocked, but all staff successfully left the building. One of the employees said in a translated comment “I left America for this kind of bullshit. And now I’m in the middle of it.”

Police officials, the Public Prosecution Service, and representatives of the mayor, including Deputy mayor Rutger Groot Wassink and police commander Frank Paauw, have gathered to discuss the situation at the police headquarters.

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