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Utrecht : Dutch prosecutors «seriously considering a possible terrorist motive»

After a Dutch prosecutor said the Utrecht suspect could have been motivated by family reasons, reports suggested that investigators are seriously considering a possible terrorist motive.  

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Utrecht tram, where the shooting took place./Ph. DR

After arresting the Turkish-born suspect, who killed three people and injured five others in a shooting, authorities in Utrecht said they are «seriously considering a possible terrorist motive», reports the Guardian, quoting the regional public prosecutor.

In a statement made public by the Dutch Public Prosecution Service, the prosecutor’s office announced that a letter was found in the car used by the assailant, minutes before opening fire on a tram’s passengers in Utrecht.

«At this point a terrorist motive is still being taken seriously», the same statement said, stressing that «other motives cannot be excluded and are still being investigated».

Authorities said that investigators are still trying to figure out the link between the gunman and the three people who were killed on Monday. The assailant was arrested, later in the day, after he was identified as a 37-year-old Turkish national with a criminal record.

Family reasons not excluded

The statement, issued Tuesday, reports that the victims were identified as «a 19-year-old woman from nearby Vianen and two men, aged 28 and 49, from Utrecht».

On Monday night, reports suggested that the Utrecht shooting occurred because of a «family dispute». Quoting the Turkish news agency Anadolu, media reports said that the suspect acted because of family reasons.

The same version of the story was confirmed by people who knew the suspect in the Netherlands. According to the same source, only one person was targeted in the shooting.

Moreover, authorities in Utrecht said the suspect, Gökmen Tanis, was known to the police and that he was brought to court for rape charges, in the same month. The man was also held for offences related to «threatening a woman with murder», Guardian says.

In addition to the main suspect, «two other suspects were arrested», prosecutor's office said, adding that they are men from Utrecht aged 23 and 27.

According to the spokesman for the Dutch prosecutor’s office Ties Kortmann, Tanis is being held «on suspicion of manslaughter with a possible terrorist motive», the same source wrote.

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