Letter in Dutch suspect’s getaway car suggests terror motive: prosecutors

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Utrecht's police chief said a suspect in the deadly tram shooting in the Dutch city on Monday morning had been arrested, after an attack which saw three people killed and at least five others injured. (AFP)
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A handout released by Utrecht Police shows Turkish-born Gokmen Tanis. (Utrecht Police/AFP)
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Dutch counter terrorism police prepare to enter a house after a shooting incident in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Police in the central Dutch city of Utrecht say on Twitter that "multiple" people have been injured as a result of a shooting in a tram in a residential neighborhood. (AP)
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A body is covered with a blanket next to a tram following a shooting in Utrecht on Monday, March 18, 2019. (AP)
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An image grab shows, a body lying next to a tram as emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands on Monday, March 18, 2019. (AP)
Updated 19 March 2019
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Letter in Dutch suspect’s getaway car suggests terror motive: prosecutors

  • Turkish-born main suspect Gokmen Tanis and two unnamed men remain in custody
  • Three people were killed in the shooting, five injured

UTRECHT, Netherlands: Dutch prosecutors and police said they were “seriously” investigating a terrorist motive for the Utrecht tram attack because of evidence including a letter found in the main suspect’s getaway car.

“So far, a terrorist motive is seriously being taken into account. This is based on a letter found in the getaway car among other things and the nature of the facts,” they said in a joint statement.

Turkish-born main suspect Gokmen Tanis, 37, and two unnamed men from Utrecht aged 23 and 27 remain in custody. Police found a red Renault Clio after Monday’s attack which they said he had used to flee.

The three people who died in the shooting were a 19-year-old woman from Vianen, which is near Utrecht, and two men aged 28 and 49 from Utrecht itself, the statement said.

“So far our investigation has established no link between the main suspect and the victims,” police and prosecutors added.

Dutch and Turkish media reports had previously reported that a family dispute may have been the motive for the shooting.

Police forces walk near a tram at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place. (AFP/ANP)

However, the police and prosecutors said that “other motives are not excluded, they are also being investigated.”

Armed police arrested Tanis in Utrecht after a huge manhunt on Monday during which police released his picture on social media.

“A firearm was found during his arrest,” the statement added.

Emergency services stand at the 24 Oktoberplace in Utrecht, on March 18, 2019 where a shooting took place. (AFP)

Authorities earlier 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, and also at mosques.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte convened crisis talks, saying he was deeply concerned about the incident.

Utrecht Police had earlier tweeted an image of Tanis, asking people for information on him in connection with the incident — but warned members of the public not to approach him.

The main counterterrorism unit in The Netherlands, the National Coordinator for Security and Counterterrorism (NCTV), told the Dutch public broadcaster that the incident had all the characteristics of a terrorist attack.

 

The 24 Oktoberplein is a busy Utrecht traffic junction, with a tram stop.

(With AFP and Reuters)


Philippines’ Duterte in war of words over Canada garbage row

Updated 29 min 16 sec ago
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Philippines’ Duterte in war of words over Canada garbage row

  • The Philippines has urged Canada to take back scores of garbage containers shipped to the country in 2013 and 2014, alleging they contain toxic waste
  • Ottawa has said it had no authority to compel a private shipper to return the shipment to Canada

PORAC, Philippines: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday demanded Canada take back tons of trash it had illegally shipped to Manila or risk “war,” in the latest incident to strain bilateral ties.
The Philippines has urged Canada to take back scores of garbage containers shipped to the country in 2013 and 2014, alleging they contain toxic waste.
But Ottawa has said it had no authority to compel a private shipper to return the shipment to Canada.
Speaking to officials during a visit north of Manila, an area ravaged by an earthquake on Monday, Duterte said he did not care if his stance on the issue turned the two countries into enemies.
“I want a boat prepared. I’ll give a warning to Canada maybe next week that they better pull that thing out, or I will set sail for Canada and dump their garbage back there,” he said.
“Let’s fight Canada. I will declare war against them,” added the president, who frequently uses coarse language and hyperbole in public speeches about opponents.
The garbage is among several festering issues that have soured ties between the two governments.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has been among the most vocal critics of the domestic drug war waged by Duterte, who was elected in 2016.
Philippine police say they have killed nearly 5,000 alleged drug users and pushers who fought against arrest in the crackdown, while rights groups say the true toll is at least triple that and may amount to crimes against humanity.
Last year Duterte angrily canceled the Philippine military’s $235 million contract to buy 16 military helicopters from a Canada-based manufacturer after the Trudeau government put the deal under review because of the president’s human rights record.