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Suspect arrested in shooting that leaves at least 3 dead in Dutch city of Utrecht

Reuters with CNBC
Key Points
  • Several hurt, three feared dead after Utrecht shooting
  • Dutch police seeking 37-year-old Turkish man
  • Authorities say shooting appears to be terrorist attack
  • Security beefed up at airports, schools, mosques
Police forces stand at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place.
Robin van Lonkhuijsen | AFP | Getty Images

A suspect has been arrested in a shooting in the Dutch city of Utrecht that left at least 3 people dead, according to authorities.

Dutch security forces were hunting for a 37-year-old Turkish man suspected of having shot several people on a tram Monday, in what authorities said appeared to be a terrorist attack.

The Mayor of Utrecht, Jan van Zanen, has since claimed that three people have been killed with nine more injured.

Authorities raised the terrorism threat to its highest level in Utrecht province, schools were told to shut their doors and paramilitary police increased security at airports and other vital infrastructure, and also at mosques.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte convened crisis talks, saying he was deeply concerned about the incident, which came three days after a lone gunman killed 50 people in mass shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand.

"The police asks you to watch out for 37-year-old Gokmen Tanis (born in Turkey) in connection with this morning's incident," Dutch police said in a statement.

They issued an image of the man and warned the public not to approach him. They gave no further details.

Earlier, the head of Dutch counter-terrorism said shots had been fired at several locations, without elaborating. Counter-terrorism units surrounded a house in Utrecht, Dutch television showed, but no one appeared to have been arrested.

"A lot is still unclear at this point and local authorities are working hard to establish all the facts. What we already know is that a culprit is at large," Counter-Terrorism Agency head Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg told a news conference.

Aalbersberg, who said the shooting "appears to be a terrorist attack", declined to comment on the number of injured or on their condition and did not confirm any deaths.

Rescue workers install a screen on the spot where a body was covered with a white blanket following a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019.
Peter Dejong | AP

Local broadcaster RTV Utrecht quoted a witness of the tram incident as saying he had seen a woman lying on the ground amid some kind of confrontation and several men running away from the scene.

A reporter for Dutch broadcaster NOS said a white sheet had been placed over a body near the tram where the shooting had taken place.

Utrecht, the Netherlands' fourth largest city with a population of around 340,000, is known for its picturesque canals and large student population. Gun killings are rare in Utrecht, as elsewhere in the Netherlands.

Police said the tram station stop in a square outside the city center had been cordoned off. Emergency services were at the scene.