'We assume a terror motive': 3 killed on tram in Dutch city of Utrecht; suspect arrested

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Three people died and five were hurt in a brazen shooting on a tram in a bustling residential neighborhood in the Dutch city of Utrecht on Monday, an assault authorities said was likely terrorism.

“We assume a terror motive,” Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen said.

Following a sweeping manhunt across the historic city of nearly 350,000 people, Gokmen Tanis, 37, was arrested by authorities. Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said Tanis was known to justice authorities and had a criminal record, but would not elaborate. Police said they also detained another man on suspicion of involvement but released no details.

As night set in, three victims lay in critical condition, and the motive for the bloodshed remained under investigation.

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Police forces stand near a tram at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place. A gunman who opened fire on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht on March 18, injuring several people, is on the run, police said.Police forces stand near a tram at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place. A gunman who opened fire on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht on March 18, injuring several people, is on the run, police said.
Police forces stand near a tram at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place. A gunman who opened fire on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht on March 18, injuring several people, is on the run, police said.

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The terror alert level for the area was raised to the maximum level – a 5 – and security was reinforced at Dutch airports and key buildings across the country. Later, authorities downgraded the alert to a 4.

The Utrecht attack comes three days after 50 people were killed when a white nationalist opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayers. There was no immediate indication of any link between the two events.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the country was deeply shaken by the assault. “There is a mix of disbelief and disgust. If it is a terror attack then we have only one answer: Our nation, democracy must be stronger that fanaticism and violence.” 

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