Suspect arrested after three killed in Utrecht tram shooting

The suspect in the deadly tram shooting in Utrecht which left three people dead has been detained, Dutch police have said.

At the end of a news conference on Monday evening, police chief Rob van Bree told reporters: "I just heard that the suspect we were hunting has been arrested."

Five people were also injured in the incident and authorities immediately raised the terror alert for the area to the highest level.

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".

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," Mr 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".

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

"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 junction in a residential area. 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 a block of flats close to the scene. A dog wearing a vest with a camera mounted on it was also seen outside the building.

Netherlands shooting scene
Emergency services attend the scene of a shooting in Utrecht (Martijn van der Zande/AP/PA)

Police spokesman Bernhard Jens said one person might have fled by car and he did not rule out the possibility that more than one assailant was involved.

The country's anti-terror co-ordinator Pieter-Jaap Aalbersberg raised the threat alert to its highest level, five, around Utrecht, a city of nearly 350,000.

Political parties halted campaigning ahead of provincial elections scheduled for Wednesday that will also determine the make-up of Parliament's upper house.