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3 people die in shooting on Dutch tram

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Dutch police were hunting down a suspect after a shooting on a Utrecht tram that left three dead and multiple people injured, according to police. Authorities say they are considering the possibility of a “terrorist motive” in the attack. (March 18)
AP

Three people died and five were hurt in a brazen shooting on a tram in a bustling residential neighborhood in the Dutch city of Utrecht on Monday, an assault authorities said was likely terrorism.

“We cannot exclude, even stronger, we assume a terror motive,” Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen said. 

A suspect in the shooting has been detained, Utrecht Police Chief Rob van Bree told reporters at an afternoon news conference but gave few details.

Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus told The Associated Press it was too early to say whether the motive was terrorism but acknowledged the suspect had a criminal history.

The announcement of an arrest came after a sweeping manhunt in the city of 350,000 in the central Netherlands known for its canals, Christian monuments and old-town charm.

Police earlier released a photo of a 37-year-old Turkey-born man whom they called a person “associated with the incident.” The photo showed a bearded man on the tram dressed in a dark blue hooded top.

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The terror alert level for the area was raised to the maximum level – a 5 – and security was reinforced at Dutch airports and key buildings across the country. Later, authorities downgraded the alert to a 4.

The Utrecht attack comes three days after 50 people were killed when a white nationalist opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayers. There was no immediate indication of any link between the two events.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the country was deeply shaken by the assault. “There is a mix of disbelief and disgust. If it is a terror attack then we have only one answer: Our nation, democracy must be stronger that fanaticism and violence.” 

Contributing: The Associated Press

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