Letter bombs explode in ABN Amro and Ricoh offices in Netherlands alleged bitcoin extortion; no injuries
AMSTERDAM – Two letter bombs exploded on Wednesday at two separate locations in the Netherlands but nobody was hurt in the incidents, which police blamed on an extortionist who had demanded payment in bitcoin.
Both explosions were minor, one at an ABN Amro bank mail-sorting office in Amsterdam and the other 225 km (140 miles away) in a mail room of Japanese electronics group Ricoh, police said. No arrests have been made.
“The police believe the most likely scenario is that the letter discovered on Wednesday was one of several letter bombs sent to locations across the country,” they said in a statement, referring to the Amsterdam incident.
An employee in the Amsterdam sorting office heard a hissing sound as they were about to open a letter, city police said. “The employee threw the letter away and there was a small explosion,” they said on Twitter.
“Payment of bitcoins is required in the extortion letter,” they added.
Bitcoin is a digital currency whose payments can be difficult to trace.
ABN’s chief executive, Kees Van Dijkhuizen, said he had spoken to the employee who had handled the letter at the sorting center on the western outskirts of Amsterdam.
The second explosion in the southern town of Kerkrade, on the border with Germany, was at the offices of Ricoh.
“Thankfully there were no injuries, but those involved are of course very shocked,” Ricoh said in a statement. The blast caused some damage and the facility was closed for forensic analysis, police said.
Dutch police have been investigating a spate of letter bombs since Jan. 3, which they said appeared to have been sent by the same person. The previous letter bombs were all intercepted before they could go off.
Previous targets have included a hotel, a gas station, a garage, a real estate agent and a bill collection service.