“Terror” attack in Netherlands may have been a family feud; gunman arrested

Only one person was allegedly targeted.


The attack in the Dutch city of Utrecht which killed three people and left five others injured yesterday (Mar 18), may have been caused by a family dispute.

Turkish news agency Anadolu reported today (Mar 19) that the Turkish-born gunman Gökmen Tanis, 37, was allegedly targeting one of his own relatives who was on the tram at the time of the incident, and later shot at others who tried to intervene.

Anadolu was quoting Tanis’ relatives who added that only one person was targeted.

Gunman arrested

Tanis has since been arrested today – more than five hours after the incident – during a raid on a first floor apartment in the Oudernoord district of Utrecht.

Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte issued instructions for flags outside government buildings to fly at half-mast tomorrow, to show ‘the whole of the Netherlands shares [the victims’] deep pain’.

Photo: Utrecht police
Tanis is seen on the tram just a few minutes before one person was left dead and several others wounded from gunfire

Photo: Nick Edwards
Armed police raided a first floor apartment in Oudenoord, around 3.2km from where the attack happened, at 4pm, more than five hours after the incident

Photo: Bruno Press
Police stand outside the flat. Tanis was hauled out of the flat at gunpoint with his face covered, after officers climbed over a barbed wire wall to surprise the alleged shooter from the back of the 11-flat building

Gunman known to authorities for various crimes

Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus said the attacker ‘was known’ to authorities, but did not provide further details.

Several Dutch newspapers reported that Tanis had been due in court on March 4 in connection with a rape case.

In 2013, Tanis was suspected of attempted manslaughter by ‘opening fire on a flat’, and in recent years had been accused of committing burglary, shoplifting, drink-driving and assaulting a police officer by spitting them in the face.

Recent terror-related events in the Netherlands

In August, a 19-year-old Afghan with a German residence permit stabbed and injured two American tourists at Amsterdam’s busy Central Station before being shot and wounded.

In September, Dutch investigators said they had arrested seven people and foiled a ‘major attack’ on civilians at a major event in the Netherlands.

They said they had found a large quantity of bomb-making materials including fertiliser likely to be used in a car bomb. The men were arrested in the cities of Arnhem and Weert.

In June, two terror suspects were arrested while close to carrying out attacks including at an iconic bridge in Rotterdam and in France, prosecutors said.

The men aged 22 and 28, who were of Moroccan origin, made a film at the Erasmus bridge in which they sang a martyrdom song, they said.

Utrecht is the fourth-largest city in the Netherlands, known for its canals and large student population. Gun violence in the city is rare, as it is across the Netherlands.

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