Unidentified gunmen killed the British Ambassador to Holland and one of his Dutch servants in a daylight attack on Thursday (22 March) outside his residence in the centre of The Hague.
Unidentified gunmen killed the British Ambassador to Holland and one of his Dutch servants in a daylight attack on Thursday (22 March) outside his residence in the centre of The Hague. Police and Embassy officials said the identity of the two men who killed fifty-eight year old Sir Richard Sykes and his nineteen-year-old footman, Karel Straub, was a mystery. But there was immediate speculation that the shooting, which police described as showing the marks of professionals, could have been the work of extremists seeking an end to the British presence in Northern Ireland. Sir Richard had been British Ambassador to Holland since June 1977.
SYNOPSIS: A police spokesman at The Hague said only four shots were fired at Sir Richard form a distance of some ten metres (10 yards), as he got into his Rolls-Royce limousine outside his residence. One bullet struck him in the head.
The ambassador lived in the centre of The Hague, and made his journey to the Embassy at the same time each morning. Police said the shots were fired from a small square behind a Roman Catholic church opposite the ambassador's house. Two men -- believed to be aged between thirty-five and forty-- fired the shots, but witnesses reported seeing only one weapon -- a long-barrelled pistol. The men fled on foot, leaving no trace.
After the attack, the ambassador was driven to the Westeinde Hospital by his chauffeur. A few minutes later, an ambulance collected the footman.
But both men died while undergoing operations. Sir Richard's secretary, who was present at the shooting, later made this statement to newsmen.