Dutch police arrested four people Sunday suspected of taking part in a foiled attempt to spring a prisoner from a high-security prison during which a delivery van was set on fire.

The suspects were arrested following after the attempted prison break at Zutphen, around 112 kilometres (70 miles) west of Amsterdam, police said in a statement.

Police were first alerted around 10:50 am (0950 GMT) by a report that a delivery van was on fire in the prison's parking lot.

Pictures from the scene showed the partially burnt white van parked outside the prison gate.

‘It seems that an organised prison break had been attempted,’ Dutch police said.

‘Several persons tried to breach the prison, but the attempt was foiled,’ they said, adding that ‘no one escaped.’

The four suspects were arrested after an intensive investigation involving Dutch detectives, the Dutch border police and the German police. A police helicopter also joined the search.

‘The suspects' involvement in the escape attempt is being probed,’ police said.

Police declined to give further details, but Dutch daily tabloid De Telegraaf reported the attempted break-out targeted a senior member of the so-called ‘Mocro-mafia’ gangs of the Amsterdam underworld.

The man, only identified as ‘Omar L.’ by the newspaper, is currently serving a life sentence for his involvement in two killings and three attempted killings, the paper said.

The gangs' members are mainly of Moroccan and Antillean origin and operate principally in the Dutch capital's underworld, where they battle each other over the city's lucrative drug market, particularly the trade in cocaine.

Their fight has seen more than 20 killings of rival members in recent years.

Police shot dead a man and arrested several others in late 2017 in the south of the country during a botched escape plot that included plans to use a hijacked helicopter.

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