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  • Writer's pictureHenrike Laing

Shootings and bombings in Groningen put growing pressure on mayor

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

A shooting occurred at this location on September 14 around 3am, injuring two people. © Henrike Laing

Groningen’s mayor is under pressure to disclose details on the crime situation in the city after two shootings and a bombing took place in Groningen earlier this month.

Last week several factions of the Groningen City Council submitted questions to mayor Koen Schuiling on the latest crime incidents in Groningen.

The mayor was able to provide only limited details, but he did announce that the municipality and police will conduct inquiry on the latest incidents. In addition to this and the police investigation, the city council will hold a debate on the safety situation in Groningen. That is scheduled for 18 October.

The generally peaceful city was rocked earlier this month by a shooting and a large explosion followed by a shooting in the heart of Groningen's nightlife district, leaving two young people injured. Early last week more explosions were reported in two other cities in the province of Groningen.

Groningen seems to fit into a trend as current data from the Dutch police show the number of explosions to be rising significantly in the whole country. As of this July, more explosions had been recorded than in all of last year, NOS reports. The data also show that more and more explosions are occurring outside the big cities, it says.

“Bam, Bam, Bam”

Among those experiencing the shooting in Poelestraat on Wednesday night were hundreds of students. Vera Mulder was still waiting for a friend before going home when suddenly all she heard was: "Bam, Bam, Bam.”

The sounds were noticed by everyone, the student remembers, but since she didn't see what was happening a good 100 meters away from her, no commotion broke out in her area.

Vera Mulder is a student in Groningen and witnessed the shooting in Poelestraat. ©Henrike Laing

“We thought it was just fireworks, like always.” Only around five minutes later when numerous police cars and ambulances rushed to the location, they noticed it was a shooting that had happened.

City council presses mayor for details

“It is shocking for the city of Groningen because the things that happened normally happen in Amsterdam or Rotterdam,” council member Maria Martinez Doubiani explains.

However, she says a serious aggravation of the situation in Groningen has been looming for some time, not just since last week. Thus, the explosion in the hair salon in Herestraat was already the second bombing in the same place within a few months.

Martinez Doubiani and her party D66 have already in July after the first explosion asked the Board of Municipality of Groningen for numbers and facts on organized crime in Groningen such as an assessment of the connection of various acts of violence to the drug gangs and also an assessment of people's sense of security in the area.

Council member Maria Martinez Doubiani looks with concern on the organized crime situation in Groningen. ©Henrike Laing

Even though no clear numbers on the problem are yet visible, Martinez Doubiani stresses that organized crime is omnipresent and evident in Groningen as organised crime that happened under the table becomes now visible.

“We see crime organisations are affecting our society, affecting our neighborhoods, affecting the people's feeling of safety and that is not good.”

Student not afraid after shooting in Groningen

For Vera Mulder the shooting did not change a lot, she says. However, she says that the thought of random people being shot by guns in Groningen is barely imaginable for her as Groningen is like a little village.

She is not afraid when she goes out now as before, she says. “But when you really think about what happened last week and also before, maybe it is more dangerous than we thought.”

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