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Suspect arrested after three people killed in shooting in Dutch city of Utrecht

Utrecht Police confirmed this afternoon that five people have been injured in the incident.

Updated Mar 18th 2019, 5:38 PM

Netherlands Shooting Ambulances seen next to a tram after a shooting in Utrecht Source: Peter Dejong via PA Images

POLICE IN THE Netherlands have arrested a suspect following a shooting in the city of Utrecht this morning, according to the Utrecht police chief.

Three people died and five people were injured in the incident.

The incident occurred on a tram at 24 Octoberplein, and the alarm was raised at 10.45am local time (9.45am Irish time). 

Utrecht Police confirmed this afternoon that five people have been injured, after earlier reports than nine people had been injured. 

Police have now confirmed that a man has been detained. 

“We have just been informed that the suspect has been arrested,” Utrecht police chief Rob van Bree told a news conference.

The head of the Dutch national counter-terrorism service, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, confirmed “the arrest of the main suspect for the shooting”.

He said authorities had lowered the threat level in Utrecht from the maximum level five as a result of the arrest.

Police earlier released an image of a man they were searching for in connection with the incident.

“The police are asking you to look out for the 37-year-old Gokmen Tanis (born in Turkey) in connection with the incident this morning,” they tweeted. 

People had been urged not to approach the man.

A square near a tram station had been cordoned off by police following the shooting.

Netherlands Shooting Dutch counter terrorism police prepare to enter a house after a shooting incident in Utrecht, Netherlands Source: Peter Dejong

Investigations are underway into the circumstances behind the incident.

Dutch authorities said they were still investigating a likely terrorist motive for the attack but said they “cannot exclude” other motives, including a family dispute.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the theory that it was a terror attack “could not be excluded”, vowing that the Netherlands would “never give way to intolerance”.

High alert

The Netherlands has now boosted security at airports and other key buildings in response to the incident. 

“In connection with the situation in Utrecht, the Royal Military Police is on high alert at the airports and at other vital buildings in The Netherlands,” the force said on Twitter.

In a statement, the University of Utrecht has said its buildings have been place under extra surveillance. 

“Due to the shooting in Utrecht this morning, all students, employees and guests are advised to stay inside due to the heightened threat,” it said.

Police checks at Düsseldorf main station Policemen check trains coming from the border region of North Rhine-Westphalia to the Netherlands at Düsseldorf main station Source: DPA/PA Images

A spokesman for the federal police in the border state of North Rhine-Westphalia in Germany told The Associated Press that additional police have been added to watch major highways, minor crossings and railway routes.

They said the federal police were in close contact with authorities in the Netherlands and had a description of the suspect. 

In a statement, the mayor of Utrecht said his thoughts are with the victims of this attack and their loved ones. 

Mayor Jan van Zanen said he was in close contact with police and the public prosecutor, who are working to apprehend the person responsible for the shooting.

Transport authorities suspended all tram services in the city after the incident. 

With reporting from Hayley Halpin, The Associated Press and © AFP 2019

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