Three dead, nine wounded in Netherlands Shootings: Utrecht mayor


18th March, 2019 04:55:06 printer

Three dead, nine wounded in Netherlands Shootings: Utrecht mayor

Three people were killed and nine injured in a shooting in the Dutch city of Utrecht, the mayor said Monday, adding that authorities were working on the basis of it being a terrorist attack.


“At this stage, we can confirm three deaths and nine wounded three of them seriously," Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen said in a video statement on Twitter.


“We are working on the principle that it was a terrorist attack,” he added.


Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had earlier said there were ‘possible deaths’ and that a terrorist motive was ‘not excluded’.


Dutch police released a picture of a Turkish-born man they are hunting over a shooting on a tram in Utrecht.


“The police are asking you to look out for 37-year-old Gokmen Tanis (born in Turkey) in connection with the incident this morning,” Utrecht police said on Twitter, adding: “Do not approach him.”


Earlier, 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.


Police said the attacker was still on the run after the incident.


“A shooting occurred on the 24 Oktoberplein in Utrecht... Multiple people have been injured. The surrounding area has been cordoned off and we are investigating the matter,” Utrecht police said on Twitter.


“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.


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.


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.