One person is believed to have been killed and several others have been injured in a shooting incident on a tram in Utrecht, on Monday morning. The incident happened at around 10.45 on a tram at the 24 Oktoberplein, a busy transport hub close to the city’s main railway station, which has been sealed off. Tram services have also been halted. The counter-terrorism service NCTV raised the terror threat level in Utrecht to 5 – the highest level – for the first time since it was introduced. ‘The perpetrator is still on the run. A terrorist motive has not been ruled out,’ said the head of the service, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg.
Police have not confirmed how many people had been injured in the incident, but three people were reported to have been taken away in ambulances. Local media said one person had been killed, based on images of a body covered by a white sheet beside the tram. Police spokesman Bernhard Jens told NOS that the suspected gunman may have fled the scene in a red Renault Clio. He said: ‘We trying to get an overview of what’s gone on, offering support to victims and of course we’re looking to catch the person responsible for this as quickly as possible.’ No arrests have been made so far.
Security has been stepped up at Schiphol airport and other transport hubs. Children at nearby schools have been told to stay indoors. Prime minister Mark Rutte broke off the morning meeting of coalition parties to be briefed on the incident. Asked about a possible terrorist motive, he replied: ‘We will investigate that thoroughly, but I am extremely concerned.’
One eyewitness is quoted as saying by website Nu.nl that ‘a man just started shooting around him.’ Another told the NRC that the shooter appeared to target people sitting in the seats. ‘The conductor could not open the doors straight away but two lads next to me smashed the window so I could get out.’ Another eyewitness told the local broadcaster RTV Utrecht he saw a woman lying on the ground saying ‘I did not do anything’. ‘I think she was aged 20 to 35,’ Jimmy de Koster said. ‘I heard three shots and four people ran towards her and tried to drag her away. Then I heard more shots and the people let her go. It was chaotic.’ RTV Utrecht reporter Dennis van Ommeren said on Twitter one body appeared to have been hidden under a white sheet.