Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dutch Queen Beatrix and Prime Minister Mark Rutte remember shooting victims

Dutch Queen Beatrix and Prime Minister Mark Rutte were among those paying tribute on Wednesday to the victims of a shopping centre shooting in which six people were killed earlier this month.
"They are with us today. We are commemorating them with our deepest respect," Rutte said at the sombre ceremony at a theatre in the town of Alphen aan de Rijn shown on Dutch public television NOS.
"Today, flags are flying half-mast all around the Netherlands. You are not alone," Rutte told some 750 people including victims' relatives, those injured in the shooting, rescue workers and police officers involved.
Six people died and at least 10 others were injured when Tristan van der Vlis, 24, opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle on shoppers in the mall in the western Dutch town on April 9. Van der Vlis then committed suicide.
Queen Beatrix, Prince Willem-Alexander and several Dutch ministers attended the ceremony at the theatre.
There, six bunches of white roses rested on top of makeshift tombstones bearing the names of the dead.
"After April 9 it will never be the same," said Alphen aan de Rijn's interim mayor, Bas Eenhoorn.
"But it's not only about sadness, it's also about being strong together," he added.
The ceremony was also followed on big screens by hundreds of residents outside the theatre, at the town hall and at a church in Alphen aan de Rijn, according to the Dutch news agency ANP.
On April 10, a day after the shooting, between 5,000 and 6,000 people joined the prime minister at the shopping centre.