UTRECHT, Netherlands (AP) — A gunman killed three people and wounded five on a tram in the Dutch city of Utrecht on Monday morning in what the mayor said appeared to be a terror attack, touching off a manhunt that saw heavily armed officers with dogs zero in on an apartment building nearby.
Authorities immediately raised the terror alert for the area to the highest level, and Dutch military police tightened security at airports and key buildings in the country.
A few hours after the shooting, Utrecht police released a photo of a 37-year-old Turkish-born man they identified as Gokmen Tanis and said he was “associated with the incident.” The photo showed a bearded man aboard a tram in a blue hooded top.
The attack came three days after 50 people were killed when an immigrant-hating white supremacist opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayers. There was no immediate indication of any link between the two events.
Utrecht Mayor Jan van Zanen said three people were killed, and police put the number of wounded at five.
“We cannot exclude, even stronger, we assume a terror motive. Likely there is one attacker, but there could be more,” van Zanen said.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that “a terror motive is not excluded” and that the attack was met throughout the country with “a mix of disbelief and disgust.”
“If it is a terror attack, then we have only one answer: Our nation, democracy, must be stronger that fanaticism and violence,” he added.
The shooting took place at a busy intersection in a residential neighborhood. Police erected a white tent over an area where a body appeared to be lying next to the tram.
Anti-terror officers gathered in front of an apartment building close to the scene. A dog wearing a vest with a camera mounted on it was also seen outside the building.
Police spokesman Bernhard Jens said one person might have fled by car, and he did not rule out the possibility that more than one shooter was involved.
The Netherlands’ anti-terror coordinator, Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, raised the threat alert to its highest level, 5, around Utrecht, a city of nearly 350,000.
Political parties halted campaigning ahead of provincial elections scheduled for Wednesday that will also determine the makeup of Parliament’s upper house.
In neighboring Germany, police said they stepped up surveillance of the Dutch border, watching not only major highways but also minor crossings and train routes.
German authorities said they were initially told to look out for a red Renault Clio compact car but were later informed it had been found abandoned in Utrecht.
Developing story, more to come…
New Zealand Prime Minister: Gun Reforms Will Be Announced In 10 Days
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern says gun law reforms will be announced within 10 days following the Christchurch shootings that killed 50 people.
She said Cabinet ministers had met and made an in-principle decision to tighten gun ownership but details still need to be worked out.
Ardern also announced an inquiry into the country’s intelligence services.
The Australian white supremacist charged in the massacre wasn’t detected before his well-planned attack on two mosques and there have been concerns intelligence agencies were overly focused on the Muslim community in detecting and preventing security risks.
Gun Shop Owner Confirms His Shop Sold Guns To Alleged Mosque Shooter
EDITORS NOTE: NewsThisSecond is not showing the perpetrators’ face, in adherence to requests by Judge Paul Kellar, who will be trying Brenton Tarrant in court.
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) — The owner of Christchurch’s “Gun City” store said it sold four guns and ammunition to the alleged mosque shooter through a “police-verified online mail order process.”
David Tipple said in a statement that he has provided police with the purchase records and full details of the sales, which did not include military style semi-automatic weapons.
Tipple said he and staff are “dismayed and disgusted” by Friday’s shootings.
The store has been criticized for leaving out a roadside advertising billboard that shows a parent helping children with rifle target practice.
Referring to the man arrested after the shootings at two mosques, Tipple said, “We detected nothing extraordinary about this (gun) license holder.”
An Australian man has been charged with murder in the attacks at two Christchurch mosques.
Australian police have raided two homes in New South Wales state as part of the investigation into the New Zealand mosque shootings.
Australian Brenton Tarrant has been charged with murder over the shootings in Christchurch on Friday.
Police said in a statement the raids occurred in the towns of Sandy Beach and Lawrence early on Monday.
The statement says: “The primary aim of the activity is to formally obtain material that may assist New Zealand Police in their ongoing investigation.”
Tarrant grew up to the north of the raided towns in the New South Wales town of Grafton.
Families of the 50 people killed in the Christchurch mosque shootings are enduring an increasingly agonizing wait for the bodies of victims to be released as New Zealand reels from the unprecedented tragedy.
Three days after Friday’s attack, New Zealand’s deadliest shooting in modern history, relatives were anxiously waiting for word on when they can bury their loved ones. Islamic tradition calls for bodies to be cleansed and buried as soon as possible after death.
Aya Al-Umari, whose older brother Hussien Al-Umari died at the Al Noor mosque, said “It’s very unsettling not knowing what’s going on, if you just let me know — is he still in the mosque? Is he in a fridge? Where is he?”
Authorities say they hope to release all the bodies by Wednesday.
50 Killed, 50 Injured At Mosques In ‘One Of New Zealand’s Darkest Days’
EDITORS NOTE: NewsThisSecond is not showing the perpetrators’ face, in adherence to requests by Judge Paul Kellar, who will be trying Brenton Tarrant in court. We are also not linking to the manifesto or to the archived livestream, out of respect of the 50 killed and 50 injured in the terror attack, and due to the fact that people will be charged for possessing either the manifesto or the shooting footage itself, facing a decade or more in prison.
UPDATE: The death toll in Christchurch mosque shootings has risen to 50, New Zealand Police Commissioner Mike Bush said on Sunday at a press conference broadcast by CNN.
“It is with sadness that I advise that number of people who died in this event has now risen to 50,” Bush said. “As of last night we were able to take all of the victims from both of those scenes. In doing so we were able to locate a further victim,” he added.
Bush confirmed that the number of injured in the attack was also 50.
CHRISTCHURCH, New Zealand (AP) – At least 49 people were shot to death at two mosques during midday prayers Friday – most if not all of them gunned down by an immigrant-hating white supremacist who apparently used a helmet-mounted camera to broadcast live video of the slaughter on Facebook.
One man was arrested and charged with murder, and two other armed suspects were taken into custody while police tried to determine what role they played in the cold-blooded attack that stunned New Zealand, a country so peaceful that police officers rarely carry guns.
“It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, noting that many of the victims could be migrants or refugees.
She pronounced it “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”
The gunman behind at least one of the mosque shootings left a jumbled, 74-page manifesto that he posted on social media under the name Brenton Tarrant, identifying himself as a 28-year-old Australian and white supremacist who was out to avenge attacks in Europe perpetrated by Muslims.
He also livestreamed in graphic detail 17 minutes of his rampage at Al Noor Mosque, where, armed with at least two assault rifles and a shotgun, he sprayed worshippers with bullets over and over, killing at least 41 people. Several more people were killed in an attack on a second mosque in the city a short time later.
At least 48 people were wounded, some critically.
Police did not immediately say whether the same person was responsible for both shootings. They gave no details about those taken into custody except to say that none had been on any watch list.
In the aftermath, the country’s threat level was raised from low to high, police warned Muslims against going to a mosque anywhere in New Zealand, and the national airline canceled several flights in and out of Christchurch.
World leaders condemned the attacks and offered condolences. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan and other Islamic leaders pointed to the bloodbath and other such attacks as evidence of rising hostility toward Muslims.
“I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam & 1.3 bn Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim,” Khan tweeted.
New Zealand, with 5 million people, has relatively loose gun laws but few gun homicides. It is also generally considered to be welcoming to migrants and refugees.
In the wake of the slaughter, the prime minister said that immigrants and refugees “have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us.” She said the suspects harbor “extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand.”
At the Al Noor mosque, witness Len Peneha said he saw a man dressed in black and wearing a helmet with some kind of device on top enter the house of worship and then heard dozens of shots, followed by people running out in terror.
Peneha, who lives next door, said the gunman ran out of the mosque, dropped what appeared to be a semi-automatic weapon in his driveway and fled. Peneha then went into the mosque to help the victims.
“I saw dead people everywhere. There were three in the hallway, at the door leading into the mosque, and people inside the mosque,” he said. “I don’t understand how anyone could do this to these people, to anyone. It’s ridiculous.”
Facebook, Twitter and Google companies scrambled to take down the gunman’s video, which was widely available on social media for hours after the horrific attack.
In the video, the killer spends more than two minutes inside the mosque spraying terrified worshippers with gunfire. He then walks outside, where he shoots at people on the sidewalk. Children’s screams can be heard in the distance as he returns to his car to get another rifle. He walks back into the mosque, where there are at least two dozen people lying on the ground.
After going back outside and shooting a woman there, he gets back in his car, where the song “Fire” by the English rock band The Crazy World of Arthur Brown can be heard blasting. The singer bellows, “I am the god of hellfire!” and the gunman drives off.
The second attack took place at the Linwood mosque about 5 kilometers (3 miles) away. Mark Nichols told the New Zealand Herald that he heard about five gunshots and that a worshipper returned fire with a rifle or shotgun.
The footage showed the killer was carrying a shotgun and two fully automatic military assault rifles, with an extra magazine taped to one of the weapons so that he could reload quickly. He also had more assault weapons in the trunk of his car, along with what appeared to be explosives.
The gunman’s manifesto was a welter of often politically contradictory views, touching on many of the most combustible issues of the day, among them the Second Amendment right to own guns, Muslim immigration, terrorist attacks and the wealthiest 1 percent.
He portrayed himself as a racist and a fascist and raged against non-Westerners, but said China is the nation that most aligns with his political and social values.
The gunman said he was not a member of any organization, acted alone and chose New Zealand to show that even the most remote parts of the world are not free of “mass immigration.”
Last year, New Zealand’s prime minister announced that the country would boost its annual refugee quota from 1,000 to 1,500 in 2020. Ardern, whose party campaigned on a promise to take in more refugees, called it “the right thing to do.”
Christchurch is home to nearly 400,000 people and is sometimes called the Garden City. It has been rebuilding since an earthquake in 2011 killed 185 people and destroyed many downtown buildings.
Before Friday’s attack, New Zealand’s deadliest shooting in modern history took place in 1990 in the small town of Aramoana, where a gunman killed 13 people following a dispute with a neighbor.
Perry reported from Wellington. Associated Press writers Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Australia, and Chris Blake in Bangkok contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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