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Dutch Tram Shooting Leaves 3 Dead      03/19 07:31

   

   

   UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) -- Dutch prosecutors said Tuesday they are taking 
very seriously the possibility that the deadly shooting on a tram in the 
central city of Utrecht was an act of terror.

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

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

   The statement also said that investigations so far have not established any 
relationship at all between the main suspect, Gokmen Tanis, and the shooting 
victims.

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

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

   Tanis, a 37-year-old man of Turkish descent, was being held on suspicion of 
"manslaughter with terrorist intent," though authorities have not ruled out 
other possible motives.

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

   Officials said Tanis has had a long criminal record in the Netherlands 
involving a variety of offenses --- none terror-related --- but gave no details.

   Police spokesman Martin de Wit said that a total of three people --- the 
alleged shooter and two others whose involvement was being investigated --- 
were in custody following Monday's attack.

   Prosecutors said that police recovered a weapon during the arrest. 

   The tram shootings came just days after 50 people were killed when an 
immigrant-hating Australian white supremacist opened fire at two mosques in 
Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayers. There was no indication of 
any link between the two events.

   Prosecutors were questioning all three suspects and it was not yet clear if 
Tanis would be brought before 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 bunches of 
flowers near the busy traffic intersection where the gunfire erupted Monday on 
a tram.

   One bunch carried a message in Dutch saying: "We are sad and deeply shaken. 
Utrecht has been hit hard; straight through the heart. Strength!! Peace and 
Love."

   While the investigation appeared to be increasingly focused on a terrorist 
motive, authorities have not ruled out other possibilities. Dutch and Turkish 
media citing his neighbors 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 killed Monday --- the 
19-year-old woman reportedly worked in a cafe in Vianen, and a father-of-three 
who volunteered as a soccer coach in Vleuten, a town west of Utrecht.

   A phone call from The Associated Press to the cafe Tuesday morning went 
unanswered.

   The soccer club posted a message saying they heard "with great dismay and 
astonishment" that the trainer of an under-19 boys' team and under-11 girls' 
team died in the shooting.


(KA)

 
 
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