Several people were injured on Monday in a gunfight in the Dutch city of Utrecht, with a population of about 344,000, according to the police, according to Reuters news agency. The city, located about 65 kilometers east of The Hague, is the capital of the province of the same name. The security forces have informed in their Twitter account that the incident took place this morning at 10.45 a.m. in the 24 de Octubre square and that the place has been cordoned off. “We are investigating the incident,” said the police on social networks, where he also added that the shooting took place on a tram. Several witnesses have said that a person was the one who carried out the shootings and then fled, according to the newspaper Algemeen Dagblad and De Volksrant. The authorities have deployed the anti-terrorist unit, reports Isabel Ferrer from Amsterdam. “Terrorist motivation is part of the investigation,” the police confirmed in another tweet. In addition, a police spokesman has said that “probably” there is one dead in the shooting, but so far he has not confirmed any deaths.
Security forces have also reported that the shooter has escaped and remains on the run. According to the daily Algemeen Dagblad, at least one woman has been shot in the chest and three others have received cardiorespiratory care. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has cancelled his meeting with members of the government coalition. The president has declared that although it is still unknown if it is an act of terrorism, he feels “very worried”. The executive has convened the crisis committee to monitor the situation and the police have recommended keeping the entrances to the city’s schools closed. The country’s anti-terrorist coordinator has reported on his Twitter account that the level of terrorist threat in the province of Utrecht has risen to the maximum.
According to a Utrecht television station’s website, the shots were fired near the former Oudenrijn hospital. Authorities have stopped tram traffic in the area and two helicopters fly over it. A witness to the events, Jimmy de Koster, heard several shots. “As I was leaving my job and waiting to cross at the traffic light, I saw a woman lying on the ground, I think in her 20s and 30s. At that moment I heard three shots. Four men quickly approached her and tried to push her away. Then I heard shots again and the men let the woman go. There was a lot of chaos,” she told Dutch television.
The Utrecht University Hospital has set up a special emergency device to treat the wounded. The city’s mosques are closed on police advice. Security at airports and some official buildings has been reinforced. The city council advises the inhabitants to stay in their homes.
The mayor of Utrecht, Jan van Zanen, has described the incident as “horrible and radical”. Van Zanen added: “The most important thing right now is to take care of the wounded and investigate the circumstances of the incident. We exclude nothing, including a terrorist attack.
The National Police has released several helplines for Spaniards in Utrecht. “If you are or have family there, the emergency numbers of the Spanish Embassy are: 0652665078 (from Spain 0031 652665078) Out of respect for the victims, please DO NOT share images of the wounded, nor hoaxes.