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Suspect arrested in deadly Netherlands tram shooting

Suspect in Netherlands shooting arrested

A suspect was arrested in a shooting that left three people dead and five wounded on a tram in the Netherlands on Monday morning in what authorities said may have been a terror attack. The ensuing manhunt convulsed the Dutch city of Utrecht.

Dutch Justice Minister Ferd Grapperhaus said the attacker — identified as Turkish-born Gokmen Tanis, 37 — "was known" to justice authorities and had a criminal record, but would not elaborate. "If it had terror motives, that is being investigated. But it was very serious. The world shares our grief," Prime Minister Mark Rutte said, adding that some of the wounded "are still in critical condition."

In Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on television the country's intelligence agency was investigating whether the attack was terrorism or personal, according to the Reuters news agency. The country's official Anadolu news agency had said the suspect's relatives believed he shot at someone close to the family due to "family issues."

Grapperhaus warned against early speculation about motives, telling the Associated Press "it is important that now the independent investigation will thoroughly go through" the evidence. Tanis' father, Mehmet Tanis, who lives in Turkey's central Kayseri province, told the private Demiroren news agency that he hadn't spoken to his son in 11 years, saying "if he did it, he should pay the penalty."

The identities of the shooting victims were not immediately released. Grapperhaus would not say if any were known to the gunman.

Monday's attack came three days after 50 people were killed when an immigrant-hating white supremacist 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 authorities reduced the threat level in the city back to four out of five following the arrest, which came after a manhunt involving heavily armed officers with dogs. During the hunt, police released a photo of a bearded Tanis aboard a tram in a blue hooded top.

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A photo sent by the Utrecht Police in the Netherlands on March 18, 2019, shows a man identified as Turkish national Gokmen Tanis, whom the police were seeking in connection with a deadly shooting attack on a tram in Utrecht. Handout

"We cannot exclude, even stronger, we assume a terror motive. Likely there is one attacker, but there could be more," Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen said as police searched for the suspect.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, Dutch military police tightened security at airports and key buildings in the country, and Rutte declared: "If it is a terror attack, then we have only one answer: Our nation, democracy, must be stronger that fanaticism and violence."

The shooting took place at a busy intersection in a residential neighborhood. Police erected a white tent over an area where a body appeared to be lying next to the tram.

Anti-terror officers gathered at one point in front of an apartment building close to the scene. However, the suspect was later arrested at another location in the city.

Political parties halted campaigning ahead of provincial elections scheduled for Wednesday that will also determine the makeup of Parliament's upper house. In neighboring Germany, police said they stepped up surveillance of the Dutch border, watching not only major highways but also minor crossings and train routes.

German authorities said they were initially told to look out for a red Renault Clio compact car but were later informed it had been found abandoned in Utrecht.

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Police forces walk near a tram at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019, where a shooting took place. Getty
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