Well known Dutch crime reporter Peter R de Vries seriously injured after being shot in Amsterdam

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Lucy Watson

One of the best-known crime reporters in the Netherlands has been shot and taken to hospital with serious injuries in a "brutal" attack that has shocked the nation.

Peter R de Vries was shot in central Amsterdam after making one of his regular appearances on a current affairs television show.

The 64-year-old had recently been acting as an adviser and confidant to a witness in a major trial of the alleged leader of a crime gang police described as an "oiled killing machine."

"Peter R de Vries is for all of us a national hero, an unusually courageous journalist, tirelessly seeking justice," Mayor Femke Halsema said at a hastily convened news conference at the city’s police headquarters.

"Today, justice in our country appears a long way off. A brutal, cowardly crime has been committed," Ms Halsema added.

Femke Halsema, the mayor of Amsterdam, has condemned the attack. Credit: AP

Police Chief Frank Paauw said two suspects were detained, "including a possible shooter" in a suspected getaway car stopped on a motorway some 30 miles south of the city.

A third suspect was detained in Amsterdam, he said.

There was no immediate word on a motive.

Five shots were fired at Mr de Vries with one of the bullets hitting him in the head, the BBC reported citing local media reports.

De Vries had long been considered a possible target of the criminals he reported on.

Police and prosecutors declined on Tuesday night to comment on whether the 64-year-old reporter received police protection.

Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the shooting "shocking and incomprehensible".

Caretake Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the attack "shocking and incomprehensible" Credit: AP

He continued that it was “an attack on a courageous journalist and also an attack on the free journalism that is so essential for our democracy, our constitutional state, our societ."

King Willem-Alexander and his wife Queen Maxima tweeted a message of support and said that "journalists must be free to carry out their important work without threats."

The 64-year-old is known for his fearless reporting on the Netherlands’ underworld.

He won an International Emmy in 2008 for a television show he made about the disappearance of US teenager Natalee Holloway while she was on holiday in the Caribbean island of Aruba in 2005.