Police are treating a shooting incident on a tram which has killed at least three people and injured nine other people as a potential terrorist incident.
Following the shooting, police have name a Turkish born national, Gökman Tanis, 37. His location is still unknown at the moment and police would like to speak to him in relation to the incident.
First reports said that one person had been killed in the shooting, however, several others have been reported as injured which happened at approx. 10:45 local time (09:45 GMT, Monday, March 18).
At first heavily armed police gathered outside a house on a street near the 24 Oktoberplein junction, where the tram attack took place while other emergency services raced to the scene including three medical helicopters.
In the immediate aftermath the gunman was reportedly still at large and that trains and trams had stopped running and schools had been asked to keep their doors closed. Utrecht’s transport authority said all trams have now been cancelled, due to the increased threat level.
At first Netherlands Counter-Terrorism Agency head Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg declined to comment on the number of injured or what condition the victims were in.
On twitter, PJ Aalbersberg NCTV, said: “Threat level raised to five, exclusively for the province of #utrecht until 6pm (18.00hrs) Perpetrator on the run. We cannot rule out terrorist motive. Follow local authorities for instructions.”
However, at a press conference into this incident Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg gave the press more information into what had happened earlier that morning. He said: “We cannot exclude a terrorist motive. A lot is still unclear at this point and local authorities are working hard to establish all the facts.” He added that there had been shootings at “several locations” but did not elaborate on where these were.
As a precaution Utrecht University reportedly closed all buildings, with nobody allowed in or out. Trains are also not allowed to run into Utrecht Central station, and mosques across the city had reportedly been closed due to security concerns.
To help treat the wounded quickly security services reportedly told Utrecht’s University Medical Centre to open a dedicated emergency ward to help care for the injured.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he was “deeply concerned” and cancelled his weekly coalition talks. Meanwhile police have asked the public for help and to let them know if they have any photos taken of the incident to hand them into them. Dutch anti-terrorism co-ordinator Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said all efforts were now focused on catching the gunman. He also said there could be more than one perpetrator. Netherlands Counter-Terrorism Agency head Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg declined to comment on the number of injured or what condition the victims were in. PJ Aalbersberg NCTV: Threat level raised to five, exclusively for the province of #utrecht until 6pm (18hrs) Perpetrator on the run. We cannot rule out terrorist motive. Follow local authorities for instructions.
As the incident unfolded Utrecht police tweeted: “A shooting occurred on the #24oktoberplein in #Utrecht. The incident has been reported at 10.45 hour. Multiple people have been injured. The surrounding area has been cordoned off and we are investigating the matter.”
What does a Level Five threat mean in the Netherlands?
Leval 5 defines the threat level as critical and that a terrorist attack in the Netherlands is ‘imminent’. The government have to feel that at least one of the following markers are present before issuing a level 5.
- We have specific indications that terrorists are about to carry out an attack in the Netherlands.
- an Attack has taken place in the Netherlands.
- there is a chance of a follow-up attack in the Netherlands.