This is everything we know so far about the Dutch tram shootings

This is everything we know so far about the Dutch tram shootings

Following Friday's tragic mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, Holland has now suffered a violent attack on the general public. A 10:45am local time, an attacker shot passengers on a tram in the city of Utrecht.

"A man started shooting wildly," one eyewitness told Dutch news site NU.nl. Trains and trams have temporarily ceased operation and schools have been told to keep their doors closed. Meanwhile, Utrecht University has reportedly locked down all its buildings, with no one allowed in or out.

The gunman is thought to still at large. According to the BBC, there are at least three fatalities with further people injured. Counterterrorism police are said to have stated that the incident "appears to be a terrorist attack". Authorities are seeking Gökmen Tanis, a 37-year-old man of Turkish descent, in relation to the incident.

Another witness spoke of helping an injured woman with blood on her clothes and hands. "I brought her into my car and helped her," he told Dutch public broadcaster NOS. "When the police arrived, she was unconscious."

"We cannot exclude a terrorist motive," Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg, a Dutch anti-terrorism co-ordinator, told a news conference. "A lot is still unclear at this point and local authorities are working hard to establish all the facts." Aalbersberg added that there had been shootings at "several locations" and that there could be more than one shooter.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus speak to the press at the Ministry of Justice and Security in The Hague following the tram shooting in Utrecht, Netherlands Credit: Lex van Lieshout / AFP / Getty

Armed police descended on 24 Oktoberplein junction, near to where the attack took place. Prime Minister Mark Rutte (above, left) condemned the attack, saying that it was "deeply disturbing". He stated: "An act of terror is an attack on our civilisation [and] on our tolerant and open society."

Both Rutte and Justice and Security Minister Ferd Grapperhaus spoke to the press at the Ministry of Justice and Security in The Hague earlier today. "At this stage," Rutte stated via a video statement on Twitter, "we can confirm three deaths and nine wounded, three of them seriously."

"I looked behind me and saw someone lying there behind the tram," another witness told NOS. "People got out of their cars... and they started to lift her up." Police have asked any witnesses with images or videos of the attack to come forward.

Police surround the area of the shooting incident in Utrecht, Netherlands Credit: Robin van Lonkhuijsen / AFP / Getty

"I helped to pull her out and then I saw a gunman run towards us, with his gun raised," the witness added. "I heard people yell 'Shooter! Shooter!' and I started to run." Security services are thought to have advised Utrecht's University Medical Centre to open a dedicated emergency ward in response to the incident.

The threat level in Utrecht has now been raised to the highest possible point and mosques have reportedly been closed due to concerns that they could be targeted in any further attacks. Meanwhile, paramilitary police have been dispatched to both airports and mosques.

A police officer approaches the tram in Utrecht, Netherlands where a shooting incident took place Credit: John Thys / AFP / Getty

Utrecht is Holland's fourth largest city and has a very low crime rate. However, Jihadist groups including those aligned with ISIS are known to operate in the region. The suspect, Gökmen Tanis, fought in Russia's republic of Chechnya, according to a local businessman. "He was arrested because of his connections with [IS] but released later," he explained to BBC Turkish.

The attack comes just three days after 50 people were killed, with a further 50 injured, in a terror attack on two mosques in New Zealand's Christchurch. Semi-automatic weapons - like the one used in the attack - were swiftly banned in New Zealand. The primary suspect is 28-year-old Australian Brenton Harrison Tarrant, who was known for his connections to far-right groups.