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The Latest: Turkey condemns Dutch tram attack

March 18, 2019
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A forensics expert looks for clues inside a tram after a shooting incident in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. A gunman killed three people and wounded nine others on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht, sparking a manhunt that saw heavily armed officers with sniffer dogs zero in on an apartment building close to the shooting. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — The Latest on a shooting in a tram in the Netherlands (all times local):

8 p.m.

Turkey’s foreign ministry has condemned the Utrecht tram shooting that killed at least three people. 

In a written statement Monday, the ministry said it “strongly” condemned the attack, “regardless of the identity of the perpetrator and the motivation behind it.”

Police in Utrecht released the picture of a 37-year-old man, identified as Turkey-born Gokmen Tanis, who they said was linked to the incident. A suspect is now in custody in the Netherlands.

The Turkish ministry said it stood with the Dutch people and the government. 

Diplomatic relations were shattered in 2017 after the Netherlands blocked Turkish government officials from holding campaign rallies for a referendum back home that expanded presidential powers. Turkey’s president, in campaign speeches, compared Dutch and German politicians to Nazis and fascists. 

The two countries re-appointed ambassadors in September 2018 to “normalize relations.”

The ministry said earlier that Turkish and Dutch officials would meet Tuesday to discuss “bilateral relations” and cooperation.

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This item has been corrected to show that Turkey-born man’s last name is Tanis, not Taskin.

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7:40 p.m.

The Dutch justice minister has told The Associated Press that the suspect in the Utrecht tram attack had a criminal record.

Ferd Grapperhaus said it was too early to say whether the attack suspect had a terror motive but acknowledged he had a criminal history.

He warned against early speculation about motives and said “it is important that now the independent investigation will thoroughly go through” the evidence.  

“Yes, the suspect was known within the justice department. He had a criminal record. That is indeed what we know. I can give no more details.” 

Local networks said that the suspect had been charged several times over the past years, anything from attempted manslaughter to petty crime in and around Utrecht. The networks said that only two weeks ago he was in court on charges of raping of woman in 2017.  

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7:20 p.m.

The Dutch justice minister says the attacker in the deadly tram shooting in Utrecht “was known” to authorities.

Ferd Grapperhaus was speaking shortly after the Utrecht police chief announced that the gunman was detained. Grapperhaus didn’t provide further details about how the suspect was known to authorities.

Prime Minister Mark Rutte, speaking at the same news conference, said some of the wounded “are still in critical condition.”

Rutte said “three people are dead, three people are fighting for their lives. There was an attack today in the Netherlands — if it had terror motives, that is being investigated. But it was very serious. The world shares our grief.”  

The attack killed at least three people and wounded five others.

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7 p.m.

Dutch authorities have reduced the threat level in the central city of Utrecht back to four out of five following the arrest of the suspect in the city’s deadly tram shooting.

The country’s counterterror coordinator announced the scaling down of the threat level in a tweet Monday evening. He says the decision was prompted by “the arrest of the main suspect of the shooting.”

A level four terror alert is in line with the rest of the Netherlands.

The decision came shortly after police announced the arrest at the end of a nationally televised press conference.

Three people were killed in Monday’s shooting and five were wounded, according to police.

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6:40 p.m.

Utrecht’s police chief says the suspect in the deadly tram shooting in the Dutch city has been detained.

At the end of a news conference Monday evening in Utrecht, police chief Rob van Bree told reporters: “I just heard that the suspect we were hunting has been arrested.”

Further details were not immediately available.

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6:25 p.m.

The father of the suspect in the Utrecht tram shooting says his son should be punished if he’s to blame.

Utrecht police released a photo of a 37-year-old man born in Turkey who they said was “associated with the incident.” The photo identified him as Gokmen Tanis.

Police say three people were killed in the shooting Monday and five wounded.

Mehmet Tanis, his father who lives in Turkey’s central Kayseri province, told the private Demiroren news agency that he hadn’t spoken to his son in 11 years. He says “if he did it, he should pay the penalty.”

Separately, Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency said the suspect’s relatives believe he shot at someone close to the family due to “family issues.”

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4:45 p.m.

Police in Utrecht say they are reducing to five the number of people who were injured in a deadly shooting on a tram in the Dutch city.

Earlier, police said nine people had been wounded in the shooting on Monday.

The death toll of three in the shooting has not changed.

Dutch police announced the updated number of wounded in a tweet but did not immediately give a reason for changing the number.

Heavily armed police are now in a manhunt in the central Dutch city, searching for the suspect.

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4:30 p.m.

The mayor of Utrecht has withdrawn advice issued earlier by his municipality for the city’s residents to stay indoors in the aftermath of a deadly shooting on a tram.

Mayor Jan van Zanen says in a video tweeted by the Utrecht municipality that the earlier advice to remain indoors was based on fears that shots had been fired at more than one location in the city.

He now says “that is not the case, as far as we know.”

Van Zanen says police are hunting for a suspect in the shooting that left three dead and nine injured. He says “there could be other suspects, we don’t know yet.”

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3:10 p.m.

The mayor of the Dutch city of Utrecht says that three people have been killed in an attack on a tram and adds that a “terror motive” is the most plausible option.

Jan van Zanen also said that nine have been wounded, three of them seriously.

Van Zanen said that “we cannot exclude, even stronger, we assume a terror motive. Likely there is one attacker, but there could be more.”

Dutch authorities have named a 37-year-old Turkey-born man as linked to the tram shooting.

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2:55 p.m.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte says that the Netherlands has been hit by an attack in Utrecht and that terrorism isn’t excluded, after one person was killed in a tram shooting along with an unknown number of wounded. 

Rutte says that “our nation was hit by an attack in Utrecht. It is clear there were shots on tram passengers in Utrecht, that there are wounded,” without specifying how many. He said that “a terror motive is not excluded.” 

Rutte said that throughout the nation, “there is a mix of disbelief and disgust.”   

He said “if it is terror attack then we have only one answer: our nation, democracy must be stronger that fanaticism and violence.”

Dutch authorities have named a 37-year-old Turkey-born man as linked to the tram shooting.

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2:30 p.m.

Dutch authorities have named a 37-year-old Turkey-born man as linked to the tram shooting in the central Dutch town of Utrecht.

Police showed the picture of a bearded man sitting on public transport and dressed in a dark blue top with a hood tucked in his neck. Police identified him as Gokmen Tanis.

It was the first image distributed of someone linked to the shooting. Police warned citizens not to approach the man but call authorities instead.

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This item has been corrected to show that the spelling of Turkey-born man’s name is Gokmen, not Gokman.

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1:30 p.m.

German police say they have upped surveillance on the country’s border with the Netherlands and are on the lookout for the gunman behind a shooting in the Dutch city of Utrecht.

Heinrich Onstein, a spokesman for the federal police in the border state of North Rhine-Westphalia, told The Associated Press on Monday that additional police had been added to watch not only major highways, but also minor crossings as well as railway routes.

He says the federal police are in close contact with authorities in the Netherlands and have a description of the suspect.

He says initially German authorities were told to look out for a red Renault Clio compact sedan but now have been told it was found abandoned in Utrecht.

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1:15 p.m.

Heavily armed anti-terror officers have gathered in front of an apartment block close to the scene of a deadly shooting on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht.

Authorities say that a suspect is still on the run following the shooting late morning Monday in which one person was killed and police said multiple others were wounded.

From the tram scene, security officials have moved to a location some 200 meters away where they are awaiting further instructions. 

Police said they were searching for the shooter “with all possible means.”

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12:35 p.m.

The Dutch anti-terror coordinator has raised the threat alert to its highest level around the central Dutch town of Utrecht following the shooting incident on a tram in the city, with the shooter still on the run. 

Anti-terror coordinator Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said in a statement that the “threat level has gone to 5, exclusively for the Utrecht province,” referring to the highest level. 

“The culprit is still on the run. A terror motive cannot be excluded,” he said in a Twitter message. He called on citizens to closely follow the indications of the local police. 

Dutch police say they are looking for a least one person who might have fled by car.

Spokesman Bernhard Jens did not exclude more people might be involved. 

“We want to try to catch the person responsible as soon as possible,” Jens said.

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12:30 p.m.

Police have erected a white tent over an area where a body appears to be lying next to a tram following reports of a shooting in the Dutch city of Utrecht.

Earlier, footage showed what appeared to be a body lying under a white blanket.

Police had said that there were “multiple” people wounded in the shooting Monday morning.

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12:10 p.m.

Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say they are investigating a shooting in a tram that left “multiple” people injured and are considering the possibility of a “terrorist motive.”

Police, including heavily armed officers, flooded the area after the shooting that happened Monday morning on a tram at a busy traffic intersection.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte called the situation “very worrying” and the country’s counterterror coordinator said in a tweet that a crisis team was meeting to discuss the situation.

There have been no reports yet of any suspects arrested.

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11:40 a.m.

Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that “multiple” people have been injured as a result of a shooting in a tram in a residential neighborhood.

Utrecht police say that trauma helicopters were sent to the scene Monday and they are appealing to the public to stay away to allow first responders to do their work.

Further details were not immediately available.

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press.All rights reserved.
1 of 23
A forensics expert looks for clues inside a tram after a shooting incident in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. A gunman killed three people and wounded nine others on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht, sparking a manhunt that saw heavily armed officers with sniffer dogs zero in on an apartment building close to the shooting. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)