Three people have been killed and nine injured after what was reported to be a single person or “several” people opening fire, onboard an urban tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht on Monday morning.
Multiple police and ambulance helicopters responded to the 24th of October Square tram station in the city around 1045 local time after reports of injured people and shooting. Counter-terror police are on the scene and investigating but the Dutch authorities have not yet confirmed the motive of the shooter.
Algemeen Dagblad, a Dutch newspaper with a local office in Utrecht reported that “several” gunmen have attacked passengers onboard the tram before fleeing the scene. Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reports while police are aware of one gunman, they are not presently ruling out multiple attackers.
Police have so far released few details about the incident, nor have they given an indication of how many were injured. There has also been no confirmation on the identity, or motivation of the perpetrator, or if there were multiple gunmen.
UPDATE 1930 — Geert Wilders speaks
Arguable the best known Dutch member of Parliament, anti-Islamification MP Geert Wilders has taken to Twitter to ask rhetorically of the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the failures of the security system which allowed the suspect to kill.
Noting the alleged killer was already known for violent crime “from manslaughter to theft, destruction and rape” and for extremism, Mr Wilders asked Monday evening how it was he was able to get hold of a weapon and “roam freely” to launch the attack.
Don’t expect an answer any time soon. In other notes online, Mr Wilders sarcastically praised “enriched” multicultural society and said he’d called for a debate in the Dutch parliament as early as tomorrow to discuss the attack and before the forthcoming provincial elections, he said, which are due to happen on Wednesday.
Of motivatie verdachte Turk nu relatiegerelateerd of terrorisme is, hoe kan iemand met een strafblad vol misdrijven van doodslag tot diefstal, vernieling en verkrachting vrij rondlopen en met een wapen in een tram onschuldige mensen doodschieten??
Leg dat eens uit Rutte.
— Geert Wilders (@geertwilderspvv) March 18, 2019
Netherlands, peil poll:
GL-G/EFA: 11% (-1)
PvdA-S&D: 8% (-1)
SP-LEFT: 8% (+1)
D66-ALDE: 7% (+1)
CDA-EPP: 7% (+1)
— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) March 16, 2019
UPDATE 1735 — Suspect arrested
After several raids across Utrecht and increased border checks with neighbouring Germany, while the suspect remained at large, Dutch police now say the main suspect Gökmen Tanis has been arrested. More details will, no doubt, follow.
UPDATE 1600 — More information on the background of the attacker
Other than a revision to the spelling of Gökman Tanis’s name to Gökmen, more details have been emerging about the chequered past of the alleged killer. Algemeen Dagblad reports Mr Tanis has a “considerable” criminal record and was on trial in Utrecht earlier this month on charges of rape. The Dutch newspaper also reports he was the suspect in a 2013 attempted murder shooting, and more recently has been in contact with police over burglary, shoplifting, and drunk driving.
Britain’s BBC reports claims made about Tanis by a Turkish businessman, who spoke to the broadcaster’s Turkish-language service. The businessman, who also lives in Utrecht, said Tanis had fought in Chechnya and was later arrested for his links to the Islamic State. This claim has not been substantiated.
In more positive developments, the number of injuries has now been revised down to five from nine.
UPDATE 1400 — Three dead
The mayor of Utrecht has made a statement, revealing that there have been three fatalities and nine further wounded people in the Utrecht shooting, which is increasingly being treated as a terror attack. On that matter, speaking at a press conference Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said: “If This is a terrorist act, then there is only one answer: we will not depart for intolerance.” Never.”
Burgemeester Jan van Zanen reageert op het schietincident eerder vandaag pic.twitter.com/PzI6t2tPtX
— Gemeente Utrecht (@GemeenteUtrecht) March 18, 2019
UPDATE 1330 — Turkish born male named as a suspect in the shooting
Despite earlier reports of multiple shooters, Dutch police now speak of one suspect, a 37-year-old Turkish origin male named as Gökman Tanis. While officers in the city have surrounded a particular building in the city, as that operation was ongoing the official account shared a security camera image of a male standing on a tram. Police told the public not to approach him if spotted but to telephone with any information, strongly implying that police have not yet successfully pinned the alleged assailant down.
De politie vraagt u uit te kijken naar de 37-jarige Gökman Tanis (geboren in Turkije) in verband met het incident vanmorgen aan het #24oktoberplein in Utrecht.
Benader hem niet zelf maar bel direct de opsporingstiplijn 0800-6070 pic.twitter.com/QZ88s3Wl0k
— Politie Utrecht (@PolitieUtrecht) March 18, 2019
UPDATE 1300 — Police raid addresses across Utrecht
The tram shooter remains on the run, and Dutch police have now advised locals in Utrecht to stay indoors given the possibility of a follow-up attack. Heavily-armed police have been seen raiding several addresses across the city, but there has been no further information about the identity of the attacker.
It is still not known how many people were injured in the attack, but Dutch media reports that all those who need medical treatment have now reached hospital.
Nav het schietincident van het 24 Oktoberplein adviseert de gemeente Utrecht, de politie en het OM (driehoek) iedereen in Utrecht binnen te blijven tot er meer bekend is. Nieuwe incidenten worden niet uitgesloten. De politie is op dit moment nog op zoek naar de dader.
— Gemeente Utrecht (@GemeenteUtrecht) March 18, 2019
UPDATE 1145 — Local media reports one fatality
De Telegraaf reports witness testimony that one body at the scene of the shooting has been covered with a blanket, indicating there was at least one fatality in Utrecht this morning. Comprehensive information about the situation is yet to be forthcoming from police, but the Dutch government has put the city on the highest state of security alert, at least until this evening, as the perpetrator is believed to still be at large.
BREEK – Volgens getuigen heeft een man in een tram op weg naar Utrecht CS een wapen getrokken en meerdere personen neergeschoten. Hulpdiensten massaal aanwezig en bezig met eerste hulp in de tram. pic.twitter.com/eQOWF2e5Ze
— Yelle Tieleman (@YelleTieleman) March 18, 2019
The Dutch government is holding a crisis meeting Monday in the wake of the possible terror attack, cancelling other meetings. Dutch journalists report there is an unusually high level of armed security patrolling outside the parliament building, which officers confirmed was in response to the Utrecht event.
This story is developing and edits are taking place in real time