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Netherlands police name suspect in Utrecht tram shooting, several injured

18 March 2019 20:42

UTRECHT. KAZINFORM Netherlands police have named a suspect wanted in connection to a shooting attack aboard a tram that injured several people on Monday in what authorities have described as a possible terror attack in a square to the west of the Dutch city of Utrecht, EFE reported.

The police said they were looking for 37-year-old Turkish-born Gökman Tanis and shared a image of the suspect apparently taken aboard a tram minutes before the incident was reported.

"Do not approach him," police said, urging the public to instead call the official helpline with any reported sightings of the alleged gunman.

The shooting took place at 10.45 am in 24 Oktoberplein, a busy junction underneath a highway bridge.

Police earlier said they were searching for a red Renault Clio car apparently linked to the attack.

"The incident has been reported at 10:45 am, multiple people have been injured. The surrounding area has been cordoned off and we are investigating the matter," police said in a tweet.

The Dutch counter-terrorism and security unit NCTV was involved in the investigation.

"NCTV is monitoring the situation in Utrecht. In close contact with local authorities. We cannot rule out a terrorist motive. Crisis team is activated," Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, the NCTV's national coordinator said.

He added that the suspected shooter remained fugitive and that the terror threat level in the province of Utrecht, in central Netherlands, had been raised to five, the highest possible category, meaning a terrorist attack was "expected imminently."

Netherlands broadcaster NOS said it was not clear how many victims there had been, but added that one of its reporters had seen a person lying immobile under a white sheet, an image later confirmed by television footage.

"It is important for us to get an overview as quickly as possible," police spokesman Bernhard Jens said.

An eyewitness told NOS that an injured woman had come running out of the tram with blood covering her hands and on her clothes.

"I brought her into my car and helped her," the eyewitness said. "When the police arrived, she was unconscious," the eyewitness, whose name was not disclosed, told the broadcaster.

Television footage showed emergency services treating an injured person next to a car as a medical helicopter landed nearby.

The alert level, which was activated for a period of at least 18 hours, applied only to the Utrecht province, Aalbersberg said.

Armed police were deployed to the scene.

Jan van Zanen, Utrecht's mayor, said it was "a horrible and major incident in which victims have fallen," adding, "I am in close contact with the police and the public prosecutor. An initial assessment has already been undertaken. The assessment can confirm that the police and public prosecutor are currently looking for the person responsible."

Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, canceled a government meeting in light of the events, which he described as a "worrying situation."

He said the government was "very concerned."

Police said witnesses had seen a man take a weapon out and start shooting continually and at random before fleeing the scene.

The air ambulance service said it had deployed three helicopters to the scene.

Utrecht police requested that members of the public avoid the roads around the area to allow emergency responders to have access to the injured.

Utrecht is the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands located just 40 kilometers (24 miles) to the southeast of the capital, Amsterdam.

Keywords: World News,
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