Three IKEA stores in Belgium, the Netherlands and France had to be closed after several explosions had occurred on Monday. After a long security check, all stores have been cleared to open again the next morning.
Three stores hit in three different countries (but close to each other)
The first store where the packages exploded was in North-French Lille. Two separate explosions in the kitchen department were too small to hurt anyone. Not even an hour away (by car) lies the IKEA store of Ghent (Belgium), where two more small bombs exploded. While not bigger than the French explosions, in the Ghent explosions two staff members were hurt because a customer had heard clocks ticking and warned security.
90 minutes later, another package exploded in a garbage can on the parking lot of Eindhoven’s IKEA and again, nobody was hurt. One remarkable fact is that, while perfectly on the line Lille – Ghent – Eindhoven (E17/E34-roads), the IKEA of Antwerp was left unharmed.
Police have searched for more such packages in the three stores (and a few others), but found no other explosives. All IKEA shops therefore opened just like normal on Tuesday morning, but the Belgian trade unions did ask for another security audit.
Earlier bomb threats on Dutch IKEA stores
It is not the first time that (Dutch) IKEA stores had to deal with alleged bombs. In 2002, two Poles put several bombs in the stores of Sliedrecht and Amsterdam. They asked for 250,000 euro, but got eleven years of imprisonment instead. Seven years later, a woman called the police claiming that there was a bomb in IKEA’s Amsterdam South East store – there was none.
As the modus operandi is the same in all the stores, police are guessing there is a connection between the events. Each of the small bombs, hidden in a milk can, consisted of a small quantity of gunpowder, a detonator and an alarm clock. One website noted that it was “quite appropriate that the bombs in the stores famous for self-assembly devices were home made”.
So far, nothing about motive or culprits is known. It does not keep the press from guessing: some point a finger to angry farmers because of the recent arguments about give-away steaks, while others think of Eastern-European amateurs.