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)


Taliban to talk to Swedish NGO after Afghan clinic closures

Updated 40 min 6 sec ago
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Taliban to talk to Swedish NGO after Afghan clinic closures

  • The closure of the health facilities is expected to affect 6,000 people
  • Two employees died last week after a rain on an NGO clinic

KABUL: The Taliban said they will hold talks with representatives of a Swedish non-profit group after threats by the insurgents forced the organization to close 42 clinics it runs in eastern Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said the Taliban would talk with the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan on Thursday “to resolve the situation” in Maidan Wardak province.
Mujahid offered no details on where and how the meeting would take place.
The closures of the facilities run by the Swedish NGO in Taliban-controlled areas of Maidan Wardak are expected to affect almost 6,000 people. The clinics in government controlled parts of the province remain open.
The closures came after Afghan forces last week raided a clinic run by the NGO, in pursuit of the Taliban. Two staffers died in the raid.