Wed, Mar 20, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Dutch question three over tram attack

FAMILY DISPUTE?Suspect Gokmen Tanis remained under custody, while two others had been freed. Dutch officials said they were still investigating a possible terrorist link

AFP, THE HAGUE, Netherlands

A man prays at a makeshift memorial at the al-Noor Mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, yesterday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

Dutch police yesterday questioned the Turkish-born suspect in a deadly shooting on a tram in the city of Utrecht and two other people arrested in connection with the rampage.

Gokmen Tanis, 37, was arrested after a massive eight-hour manhunt on Monday following the shooting in which three people were killed and five injured.

The motive remains unknown, with prosecutors saying they were still investigating a possible terrorist link because of evidence found in the main suspect’s car, including a letter, but could not exclude that it might have been a family dispute.

Utrecht police late on Monday said that they had arrested two other men in connection with the attack, but gave no further details about them.

“As for the three suspects detained in connection with the shooting incident in 24 Oktoberplein, Utrecht, these three people are still being held and are still suspicious,” Utrecht police said on Twitter yesterday.

The police statement came after the mayor of Utrecht told Dutch radio the two other men had been freed.

Mourners yesterday began to lay flowers at the site of the attack near the 24 Oktoberplein square in memory of the victims, who have not yet been formally identified.

Flags were flying half-mast on many buildings around the nation. Public transport was running again after forensic police finished their investigations at the scene and removed the tram on which the shooting erupted.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was chairing a Cabinet meeting on the attack, which has raised security fears a day before provincial elections in the Netherlands.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country’s intelligence agency was “looking into the matter” and raised the possibility that it was a family dispute.

“Some say it is a family matter, some say it is a terror attack... Our intelligence agency is looking into the matter. I haven’t talked to our intelligence chief yet,” Erdogan told Ulke TV.

Dutch media have reported that the suspect had a long criminal background and was only released from jail two weeks ago on a number of charges.

Broadcaster NOS reported that some members of his families had links to fundamentalist Muslim groups, but also that he was known for unstable behavior after divorcing his wife two years ago.

Police and witnesses said that gunfire broke out on the tram on Monday morning, sending people fleeing and triggering a huge police response.

Mosques and schools were closed across the Netherlands’ fourth-largest city following the bloodshed, before heavily armed officers surrounded a building and arrested Tanis.

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