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  • Police secure the site of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, March 18, 2019.

    Police secure the site of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands, March 18, 2019. | Photo: REUTERS

Published 18 March 2019

3 people are reported to have been killed in a mid-morning shooting in a transportation unit in Utrecht, Netherlands. A suspect is being sought by police.

Several people were shot, and three killed Monday in a tram, as reported by the mayor of the central Dutch city of Utrecht, in an incident police said may have had a "terrorist motive." A suspect has been identified and images of him have been circulated to aid in his capture.

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Police said the suspected gunman, a 37-year-old man named Gokman Tanis, whose nationality is unclear but who has been identified by police as being "Turkish born," is at large and 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 airports and other vital infrastructure. Security was stepped up at mosques.

"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. He was not immediately able to provide further details.

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

Prime Minister Mark Rutte said he was deeply concerned about the incident and convened crisis talks.

The incident comes after a lone gunman killed 50 people in mass shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, last Friday.

Utrecht, the Netherlands' fourth largest city, is known for its picturesque canals and large student population. Gun killings are rare in Utrecht, as elsewhere in the Netherlands.

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

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