Utrecht shooting: Three dead after 'terror attack' on tram in Dutch city, mayor announces
Three people have now died following a suspected terror attack during which a man opened fire on tram passengers in the Dutch city of Utrecht.
Police say they are looking for a 37-year-old man of Turkish origin, identified as Gokmen Tanis, and released a photo of the suspect. The public have been urged not to approach him.
The city’s mayor Jan van Zanen said three people had been killed and nine others were injured in the shooting attack, three of them seriously.
He said that “we cannot exclude, even stronger, we assume a terror motive. Likely there is one attacker, but there could be more”.
Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte said: “Our nation was hit by an attack in Utrecht. It is clear there were shots on tram passengers in Utrecht, that there are wounded.”
Mr Rutte said that “a terror motive is not excluded” and added that “there is a mix of disbelief and disgust” across the country.
Dutch officials showed the picture of a bearded man sitting on public transport and dressed in a dark blue top with a hood tucked in his neck.
Police spokesman Bernhard Jens said no-one had been detained yet in the shooting and one possible “explanation is that the person fled by car”. He did not rule out the possibility that more than one person was involved in the attack.
“We want to try to catch the person responsible as soon as possible,” Mr Jens said.
The country’s anti-terror co-ordinator raised the threat alert to its highest level around Utrecht. Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said the “threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province”.
The incident took place close at the city’s 24 Oktoberplein, a major junction and tram stop outside the city centre. “A possible terrorist motive is part of the investigation,” said Utrecht Police.
Police, paramedics and three air ambulances were quickly on the scene of the shooting at 10.45am on Monday.
Local broadcaster RTV Utrecht quoted an eyewitness as saying he had seen a woman lying on the ground amid some kind of confrontation. Several men ran away from the scene, the witness said.
Schools in the city were instructed to keep their doors closed, with the terror threat in the wider province of Utrecht raised to its highest level.
Heavily armed anti-terror officers were seen gathering in front of an apartment block close to the tram stop where the shooting took place.
A sniffer dogs wearing a tactical vest with a camera mounted on it was also seen outside the building.
Officers said a Red Renault Clio had been hijacked shortly before the shooting and was later found further south in the city. They asked for anyone with information about the car to get in touch.
Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, head of the Dutch counter-terrorism agency, said shootings had taken place “at several locations” without giving more details.
I have just spoken with @markrutte to get an update of the situation in #Utrecht. The #EU stands side by side with the #Netherlands and its people during these difficult times. My thoughts are with the wounded and their families.— Jean-Claude Juncker (@JunckerEU)March 18, 2019
Dutch military police have been put on “extra alert” at airports and “vital buildings”, with heavily armed officers deployed to government buildings in The Hague.
And police in Germany say they have upped surveillance on the country’s border and are on the lookout for the gunman.
Heinrich Onstein, a spokesman for the federal police in the border state of North Rhine-Westphalia, said additional police had been added to watch not only major roads, but also minor crossings as well as railway routes.
Additional reporting by agencies