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Friday 19 April 2019

Three killed as gunman opens fire in Utrecht tram attack

A further five people were injured in what the Dutch city’s mayor said appeared to be terror-related.

Dutch counter-terrorism police prepare to enter a house after the shooting incident (Peter Dejong/AP/PA)
Dutch counter-terrorism police prepare to enter a house after the shooting incident (Peter Dejong/AP/PA)

By Aleksandar Furtula and Mike Corder, Associated Press

A gunman killed three people and injured five on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht on Monday morning in what the mayor said appeared to be a terror attack.

Authorities immediately raised the terror alert for the area to the highest level and Dutch military police tightened security at airports and key buildings in the country.

A few hours after the shooting, Utrecht police released a photo of a 37-year-old Turkish-born man they identified as Gokmen Tanis and said he was “associated with the incident”.

Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen said three people were killed and police put the number of wounded at five.

An image of Gokmen Tanis, who police are looking for in connection with the shooting (Police Utrecht via AP/PA)

“We cannot exclude, even stronger, we assume a terror motive. Likely there is one attacker, but there could be more,” Mr van Zanen said.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that “a terror motive is not excluded” and that the attack was met throughout the country with “a mix of disbelief and disgust”.

“If it is a terror attack, then we have only one answer: Our nation, democracy, must be stronger that fanaticism and violence,” he added.

(PA Graphics)

The shooting took place at a busy junction in a residential area. Police erected a white tent over an area where a body appeared to be lying next to the tram.

Anti-terror officers gathered in front of a block of flats close to the scene. A dog wearing a vest with a camera mounted on it was also seen outside the building.

Police spokesman Bernhard Jens said one person might have fled by car and he did not rule out the possibility that more than one assailant was involved.

Emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht (Martijn van der Zande/AP/PA)

The country’s anti-terror co-ordinator Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg raised the threat alert to its highest level, five, around Utrecht, a city of nearly 350,000.

Political parties halted campaigning ahead of provincial elections scheduled for Wednesday that will also determine the make-up of Parliament’s upper house.

In neighbouring Germany, police said they stepped up surveillance of the Dutch border, watching not only major roads but also minor crossings and train routes.

German authorities said they were initially told to look out for a red Renault Clio compact car but were later informed it had been found abandoned in Utrecht.

Press Association

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