Thursday, 25 April, 2019

Letter points to terror motive in Dutch tram attack

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte right and Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus arrive at a makeshift memorial for victims of a shooting incident in a tram in Utrecht Netherlands Dutch Police Arrest Third Suspect Over Deadly Shooting in Utrecht
Patty Aguilar | 21 March, 2019, 12:00

Dutch authorities are still trying to determine the motive behind a shooting incident on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht in which three people were killed.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said terrorist motives could still not be ruled out. "This is based on a letter found in the getaway vehicle among other things and the nature of the facts", Dutch police and prosecutors said in a joint statement.

Three of the wounded - a 20-year-old woman from Utrecht, a 21-year-old woman from Nieuwegein and a 74-year-old man from De Meern - remain in a serious condition, according to messages posted on Utrecht Police's Twitter account.

Tanis was arrested Monday evening after an hours-long manhunt that almost paralyzed the fourth largest city in the Netherlands and sent shockwaves through the nation.

Three people died: a 19-year-old woman from the neighbouring town of Vianen, and two men aged 28 and 49 from Utrecht.

Prosecutors also said that investigations so far have not established any relationship at all between the main suspect, Gokmen Tanis, and the shooting victims.

Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said Monday that Tanis had a long criminal record.

Fearing more than one shooter was active, authorities locked down the city for hours - halting public transport and advising residents to stay indoors - until Tanis was arrested.

"A firearm was found during his arrest", the statement added.

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The suspected gunman who killed three people on a tram in Utrecht had been released from prison where he was awaiting trial for rape.

"The awful events of yesterday and the loss of our colleague have hit us hard", CEO Pier Eringa said in a statement.

Police are asking more witnesses who were on the tram to come forward as their investigation into the shooting continues.

Children place flowers at the site of a shooting in Utrecht, the Netherlands March 19, 2019.

In 2014, he was also convicted of "illegal possession of weapons" and attempted theft but acquitted of attempted manslaughter.

Prosecutors were questioning all three suspects and it wasn't clear when Tanis would be brought before an investigating judge.

Broadcaster NOS meanwhile said some of his relatives had links to Islamic groups, but also that he was known for unstable behaviour after divorcing his wife two years ago.

Support for the Netherlands poured in from around the world including the United States, the European Union and Russian Federation after the attack.

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