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  1. ITV Report

Prosecutors consider terror motive in Utrecht tram shooting

A woman puts flowers at a makeshift memorial at the site of a shooting incident in a tram in Utrecht Credit: AP

Dutch prosecutors are taking seriously the possibility that the deadly shooting on a tram in the central city of Utrecht was an act of terror.

The nature of Monday’s attack and a note found in a suspected getaway car suggest a possible terror motive, prosecutors said, but they add that other possible motives also are being investigated.

They did not elaborate on what was written in the note.

The statement said investigations have not established any relationship between the main suspect, Gokmen Tanis, and the victims.

Police image of 37-year-old Gokmen Tanis Credit: AP

Prosecutors confirmed the deaths of three people: a 19-year-old woman from the neighbouring town of Vianen and two men aged 28 and 49, both from Utrecht.

Three others were seriously wounded and four suffered light injuries, according to prosecutors.

Tanis, a 37-year-old of Turkish descent, is being held on suspicion of “manslaughter with terrorist intent”, although authorities have not ruled out other possible motives.

He was arrested on Monday evening after an hours-long manhunt that nearly paralysed the Netherlands’ fourth-largest city and sent shockwaves through the nation.

Credit: PA Graphics

Prosecutors said officers recovered a weapon during the arrest.

Officials said Tanis has a long criminal record in the Netherlands involving a variety of offences, although none were terror-related.

Police spokesman Martin de Wit said two other people are in custody following Monday’s attack.

Prosecutors are questioning all three suspects and it is not yet clear if Tanis will face an investigating judge on Tuesday.

Such hearings are generally held to request suspects are detained for longer pending further investigations.

Members of the public and Utrecht’s mayor on Tuesday placed flowers near the busy traffic junction where the attack unfolded.

A tram passes flowers at the scene Credit: AP

While the investigation appears to be increasingly focused on a terrorist motive, authorities have not ruled out other possibilities. Dutch and Turkish media citing the suspect’s neighbours in Utrecht have speculated that the shooting may have been linked to a relationship, but that appears increasingly unlikely after prosecutors said none of the victims were known to the main suspect.

Dutch media published details of two of the victims. The 19-year-old woman reportedly worked in a cafe in Vianen, and one of the men was a father-of-three who volunteered as a football coach in Vleuten, a town west of Utrecht.

The football club posted a message saying it heard “with great dismay and astonishment” that the trainer of an under-19 boys’ team and under-11 girls’ team died in the shooting.