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Utrecht incident: Three dead and five injured after shootings at multiple locations

Mirror logo Mirror 18-03-2019 Elaine McCahill

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(Provided by The Independent)

Three people have died and five others have been injured after a shooting on a tram in a city in Holland this morning.

Police, including an anti-terror unit have been deployed to the scene, following the incident on a tram at 24 October Square in the city of Utrecht. 

Images from the scene show a tram stopped in the middle of a junction surrounded by emergency emergency service vehicles.

Police Utrecht confirmed there are "multiple injuries" and said a manhunt is underway after the gunman escaped.

Dutch police said the shooter "may have had a terrorist motive" and that there may have been more than one perpatrator.

There are reports that shootings may have taken place in several places across the city, which is 25 miles south of Amsterdam.

Primary schools in Utrecht have been put on lockdown and all mosques have been evacuated.

An eyewitness called Jimmy de Koster told RTV he saw saw four men shoot a woman who dropped to the ground as she screamed: "I didn't do anything".

© Getty

He said: "I came from work when it happened. I was standing at the traffic lights in the square and see a woman, I think she is between 20 and 35. 

"At that moment I heard pang pang pang three times, four men walked very fast towards her and they tried to drag her away and then I heard pang pang pang and those guys let go of that woman again."

He said the men then fled the scene in different directions.

Another eyewitness told NRC that a man got up and started shooting "with a big gun".

"I was in the back of the tram. He shot around, but seemed to be aiming at people sitting on the benches - everyone ducked away," she said.

"The conductor did not open the doors immediately. Two boys next to me kicked in a window, so I fled outside. More people did that. "

It is not known how many people have been injured.

The Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte is holding crisis talks with the government following the shooting and said he is "very worried".

Police confirmed a gunman opened fire at 10.45am local time [9.45am GMT] this morning.

"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.

Several trauma units have been sent to the scene, including three air ambulances.

The area around the tram stop has been cordoned off and there is no tram traffic in the city by order of the police.

It's believed the shooter or shooters may have escaped in a car and police are searching for a red Renault Clio.

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

The National Anti-Terrorism Coordinator said it had raised alert level as the suspected shooter was still at large.

At least one offender is currently on the run, National Coordinator for Counterterrorism and Security Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg said at a press conference.

"It is now a priority to find this culprit. A complex operation is underway looking for the suspect. We ask citizens to stay alert and listen to the local authorities."

He said it was unclear whether there are several gunmen and added that they could not yet rule out a terrorist attack.

"In any case, an investigation is underway to one suspect. More cannot be excluded now," he added.

Rotterdam Police said there will be extra security at stations and mosques in response to the incident in Utrevht.

There is also said to be a heightened police presence at Schipol Airport.

Police have appealed to the public to stay away from the scene to keep the roads clear for the emergency services.

Police are hunting for those responsible and said they're looking to trace a red Renault Clio.

Holland’s National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, has confirmed that the culprit is still at large, and said the threat level has gone up.

He wrote: “Threat level up to 5, only for province #utrecht up to 18 hours. Offender still fugitive.”

He said a terrorism motive has not been excluded.

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has described the shooting as "hugely concerning news" and said the UK "stands with the people of the Netherlands".

He tweeted: "Hugely concerning news of a gunman opening fire on a tram in Utrecht, no doubt with innocent people just getting on with their day.

"We are in contact with Dutch authorities, urgently seeking further information.

"The UK stands with the people of the Netherlands."

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