Suspected Utrecht shooter arrested, say police

WION Web Team Utrecht, Netherlands Mar 18, 2019, 11.15 PM(IST)

Emergency services at the 24 Oktoberplace where a shooting took place on Monday in Utrecht, The Netherlands. Photograph:( Agencia EFE )

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Security agencies immediately moved in to close the area and launched a manhunt as the gunman fled

Police in the Dutch city of Utrecht in The Netherlands said that they had arrested a man believed to be the main suspect behind the shooting incident on a tram earlier on Monday in which three people were killed.

Police said the accused was arrested during a raid on The Old Town in Utrecht. "We have just been informed that the suspect has been arrested," Utrecht police chief Rob van Bree said.

The head of the Dutch national counter-terrorism service, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, confirmed "the arrest of the main suspect for the shooting".

The police had earlier released a picture of a  Turkish-born suspect Gokmen Tanis, 37, as the person responsible for the firing incident at 24 Oktoberplein, a busy junction underneath a highway bridge.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said a terror attack "could not be excluded", while adding that the Netherlands would "never give way to intolerance".

"We are working on the principle that it was a terrorist attack," Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen said. The police including the mayor said three people were killed in the shooting and five were injured.

Mosques in Utrecht had shut for the day following the attack, the incident occurred just days after the attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand in which which at least 49 people were killed.

Security agencies immediately moved in to close the area and launched a manhunt as the gunman fled as soon as he fired shots at the tram. Airports and train stations were put on high alert as the security forces searched for the gunman.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was "hugely concerning news of a gunman opening fire on a tram in Utrecht, no doubt with innocent people just getting on with their day... The UK stands with the people of the Netherlands."