Search Is on after Explosives Found Near Netherlands Port

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) _ Police said Monday that a bag of explosives had been found near Rotterdam Harbor, Europe's largest port, and that they were seeking help from witnesses.

A city worker found the sports duffel bag containing several kilograms of explosives Jan. 12, a few hundred meters from the Maas river near the harbor, police said.

A Rotterdam police spokeswoman would not say what kind of explosives were in the bag nor if police thought they were intended for use in a terrorist attack.

Worries about terrorism in the Netherlands have increased sharply since the Nov. 2 murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who had criticized the treatment of women under Islam. His killer left a note threatening more attacks and identified several prominent politicians.

A police photograph circulated by e-mail showed the explosives-packed bag, a blue-and-white nylon sports duffel with red handles, emblazoned with the logo ``Dollarstretcher'' and in smaller letters ``A British Airways Company.''

It showed numerous smaller sealed plastic bags inside the duffel, but their contents were not visible. Police also released pictures of the spot where the bag had been dropped, a patch of grass behind a knee-high fence in the residential Katendrecht neighborhood.

Authorities said they were looking for anybody who saw the bag being dropped or knew something about the explosives. They also asked for witnesses who could ``say where such a bag can be purchased.''

Rotterdam will the the site in coming months of the trial of 12 suspected Muslim radicals, said to be members of the ``Hofstad'' terrorist network with links to Van Gogh's alleged killer.

On Wednesday, judges in Amsterdam will hold the first public hearing in the case of Mohammed Bouyeri, the 26-year-old Moroccan-Dutchman charged with the Van Gogh murder and terrorism.

Another suspect, 18-year-old Samir Azzouz, triggered a nationwide terror alert when police discovered detailed maps of the Defense Ministry, the Intelligence Service, Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and the country's only active nuclear reactor at his home.