Three dead and nine injured in Dutch tram shooting as gunman remains at large

Three people were killed and nine others injured in a shooting in a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht, the mayor said, Dutch broadcaster NOS reported.

A manhunt is now underway for the gunman in an incident authorities said appeared to be a terrorist attack.

Dutch police said they are looking for a 37-year-old Turkish man in connection with the shooting.

“The police ask you to watch out for a 37-year-old man (born in Turkey) in connection with this morning’s incident,” a police statement said.

The head of Dutch counter-terrorism said shots had been fired at several locations. Counter-terrorism units surrounded a house in Utrecht, Dutch television showed, but no one appeared to have been arrested.

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 Dutch airports and other vital infrastructure. Security was stepped up at mosques.

“In Utrecht there was a shooting at several locations,” Netherlands Counter-Terrorism Agency head Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg told a news conference. “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.

He declined to comment on the number of injured or what condition the victims were in.

Police said a “possible terrorist motive” could be behind the shooting and have increased security as the shooter is “still at large”.

The Dutch government has raised the terrorism threat level to the highest possible in the province of Utrecht

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.

He said all efforts were focused on catching the “suspect or suspects” responsible for a shooting in Utrecht that is believed to have killed one person.  Rutte did not repeat earlier comments by counter-terrorism authorities who suggested the shooting may have a terrorist motive.

“Our country today has been jolted by an attack in Utrecht,” Rutte said in a statement. “Police and prosecutors are looking into what exactly happened. What’s known now is that there was shooting at people sitting in a tram in Utrecht, that there were wounded, and possibly deaths.”

“Several shots were fired in a tram and several people were injured. Helicopters are at the scene and no arrests have been made,” said police spokesman Joost Lanshage.

Local broadcaster RTV Utrecht quoted an eyewitness as saying he had seen a woman lying on the ground amid some kind of confrontation. Several men ran away from the scene, the witness said.

The Utrecht police said The October 21st square, a tram station stop outside the city centre, had been cordoned off as emergency services were at the scene.

Dutch radio is saying they have increased security in the Hague as a precaution.

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