SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – A security alert at a cinema in The Hague, which led to the screening room being stormed by police in bullet proof vests, has been resolved with a couple of fines, police confirmed on Friday.
The four youths aged 14 and 17, whose actions created the panic on Thursday were arrested at the scene and two have been fined for not carrying ID, police said in a statement.
The problems arose during the screening of the film Hotel Mumbai, about the terrorist attack on the Taj Mahal hotel in 2008. According to some eyewitness reports, four youths, who had been talking noisily during the screening, got up and left shortly before the end of the film, just when the attack was due to be shown.
They then returned and all sat in different parts of the cinema, sparking a panic among other cinema goers, at least one of whom left and alerted the police. Some 20 to 30 police officers, some with bullet proof vests, then burst into the cinema.
Visitors were forced to put their hands on their heads and leave the screening room while police combed the building. A police helicopter was also brought in and part of the Spui closed off.
A police spokesman told the AD that the youth’s behaviour had been ‘rash’ rather than an act of terror and that all four have been given a stern talking to. The police did not say if the teenagers were fooling around or had deliberately tried to frighten people.
‘They certainly came over threatening to the audience, but we should not lose sight of their age,’ the police spokeswoman told the AD. But other eyewitnesses told the AD the youngsters had been noisy and irritating but there was no question of a threatening situation.
Nor had they sat in different parts of the cinema. The police also said in their statement that officers have undergone training to deal with incidents of extreme violence at the location where the panic took place. ‘The aim of the training was to help police and cinema personal work together in stressful situations,’ the statement said.