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Three dead in Dutch shooting; killer on run

Rtv online desk
|  18 Mar 2019, 00:00 | Update : 18 Mar 2019, 20:53
Photo: Collected
Police are hunting a Turkish-born 37-year-old in connection with a potential terror attack in the Dutch city of Utrecht which has left three dead. 

The gunman has been on the run since this morning, forcing vast parts of the city - including mosques and schools - into lockdown.

Officers reported "multiple" injuries having been called to the incident on the tram in a residential neighborhood on Monday morning. 

The suspect was named by police in Utrecht as Gökmen Tanis, and local media reported the perpetrator escaped in a red car. 

Gunfire erupted at several locations in the city, the Dutch national counter-terrorism chief said after the incident on the tram.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said in a press conference that if it was a terror attack, it would not undermine Dutch openness and democracy.

The terror threat level to a maximum level of five in the Utrecht region, the first time that this has happened in The Netherlands. Parties have also suspended campaigning for upcoming elections.

Mark  Rutte said: "Our country has been shocked by an attack in Utrecht. The police and prosecution services are investigating what precisely happened. What is certain is that people sitting in a tram in Utrecht have been shot, there are wounded and possible dead.

"Culprits with a possible terrorist motive have not been ruled out. The first reports have caused a mixture of disbelief and horror.

"Violence has hit innocent people hard. Our thoughts are with them, and their near and dear. We will do everything to catch the culprit or culprits as soon as possible.

Counter-terror officers preparing a raid on a house in the Trumanlaan district have surrounded a building a few hundred yards from 24 Oktoberplein where the shooting took place.

All mosques in Utrecht have been evacuated and the Utrecht University and Utrecht Central train station are also on lockdown, according to NOS.

Three trauma helicopters were called to the scene and police have appealed for the public to keep the roads clear for emergency services.

A witness, Jimmy de Koster, told RTV Utrecht he saw a woman lying on the ground shouting: "I didn't do anything."

Four men rushed towards her in an attempt to drag her to safety, but a gunman opened fire again, forcing them to take cover, he said. 

It was not immediately clear if it was a lone attacker or if it was a coordinated attack involving more than one gunman. Local news outlet AD said police were looking into other reported shootings at nearby locations and whether or not they are linked. 

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Government and the country's anti-terrorism coordinator were holding a "crisis meeting" in the aftermath of the shooting.

He said the situation was "very worrying", and security was tightened at The Hague. Schools in the area have been told to keep their doors closed.

Mayor of Utrecht Jan van Zanen said: "Shortly before noon a shooting took place on a tram in Utrecht around 24 Octoberplein.  A horrible and radical incident in which victims have fallen.  My thoughts are with them and their loved ones.

"I am in close contact with the police and the public prosecutor... I can confirm that the police and the public prosecutor are currently looking for the person responsible for this incident.

Source: The Telegraph

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