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Gunman kills 3 on Dutch tram, mayor says terror likely

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    Rescue workers install a screen on the spot where a body was covered with a white blanket following a shooting 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 Photo/Peter Dejong)

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    Dutch counter terrorism police use a robot as they prepare to enter a house after a shooting incident in Utrecht, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. A gunman killed three people and wounded nine others on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht, sparking a manhunt that saw heavily armed officers with sniffer dogs zero in on an apartment building close to the shooting. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

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    CAPTION CORRECTS THE NAME - This image made available on Monday March 18, 2019 from the Twitter page of Police Utrecht shows an image of 37 year old Gokmen Tanis, who police are looking for in connection with a shooting incident on a tram. Police, including heavily armed officers, flooded the area after the shooting Monday morning on a tram at a busy traffic intersection in a residential neighborhood. (Police Utrecht via AP)

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    Dutch counter terrorism police install a camera on a sniffer dog as they 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 Photo/Peter Dejong)

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    Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, left, and Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus speak to the media at a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Monday, March 18, 2019. Dutch police are hunting down a suspect after a shooting on a tram in the central Dutch city of Utrecht that left several dead and more wounded. Authorities immediately raised the terror alert for the area to the maximum level. “Our nation was hit by an attack in Utrecht,” Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said. He said that “a terror motive is not excluded.” (AP Photo/Michael Corder)

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    A body is covered with a white sheet after a shooting in a tram 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 Photo/Peter Dejong)

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    In this image taken from video, a body lays next to a tram as emergency services attend the scene of a shooting 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 Photo)

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    Emergency services attend the scene of a shooting 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. (Martijn van der Zande via AP)

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    A body is covered with a white sheet after a shooting in a tram 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 Photo/Peter Dejong)

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    Rescue workers install a screen on the spot where a human shape was seen under a white blanket following a shooting 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 Photo/Peter Dejong)

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    Ambulances are seen next to a tram after a shooting 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 Photo/Peter Dejong)

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    In this image taken from video, a body lays next to a tram as emergency services attend the scene of a shooting 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 Photo)

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    In this image taken from the Twitter page of Lilian Bruigom, emergency services attend the scene of a shooting 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. (Lilian Bruigom via AP)

Published March 18. 2019 01:27PM

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.

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