THE HAGUE: Three people were killed and nine injured in a shooting in the Dutch city of Utrecht, the mayor said on Monday, adding that authorities were working on the basis of it being a terror attack.
A gunman opened fire on a tram on Monday in what officials said was a possible terrorist incident. A body covered in a sheet was reportedly seen on the tracks as armed police and emergency services swarmed around the scene in one of the largest cities in the Netherlands.
A shooting occurred on the #24oktoberplein in #Utrecht. The incident has been reported at 10.45 hour. Multiple people have been injured. The surrounding area has been cordoned off and we are investigating the matter.— Politie Utrecht (@PolitieUtrecht) March 18, 2019
It is a shooting incident in a tram. Several trauma helicopters have been deployed to provide help." Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte cancelled a meeting with his ruling coalition and was being briefed on the situation, officials said.
Police later said that "a possible terrorist motive is part of the investigation". The head of the Dutch national counter-terrorism service, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, said on Twitter that he was having "crisis consultations" over the incident. "NCTV is monitoring the situation in #Utrecht. In close contact with local authorities. We cannot rule out terrorist motive. Crisis team is activated," he said.
"Offender still fugitive," Aalbersberg said, adding that the terror threat level had been raised to the maximum of five in Utrecht for the next 18 hours.
Correction: The name is spelled "Gökmen Tanis". https://t.co/t7iXZZkGFd— Politie Utrecht (@PolitieUtrecht) March 18, 2019
Armed police surround tram
Local media showed photographs of masked, armed police and emergency vehicles surrounding a tram that had stopped near a road bridge.
Tram traffic in the area was halted, operator Qbuzz was quoted as saying by the ANP news agency. The Netherlands has been largely spared the kind of attacks which have rocked its closest European neighbours in the past few years, but there has been a series of recent scares.
The police is investigating the shooting at the #24oktoberplein in Utrecht this morning. An possible terrorist motif is part of the investigation.— Politie Utrecht (@PolitieUtrecht) March 18, 2019
In August, a 19-year-old Afghan with a German residence permit stabbed and injured two American tourists at Amsterdam's busy Central Station before being shot and wounded. In September, Dutch investigators said they had arrested seven people and foiled a "major attack" on civilians at a major event in the Netherlands. They said they had found a large quantity of bomb-making materials including fertiliser likely to be used in a car bomb. The men were arrested in the cities of Arnhem and Weert.
In June, two terror suspects were arrested while close to carrying out attacks including at an iconic bridge in Rotterdam and in France, prosecutors said. The men aged 22 and 28, who were of Moroccan origin, made a film at the Erasmus bridge in which they sang a martyrdom song, they said.