THE NETHERLANDS – Prime Minister Mark Rutte is very worried by a possible terrorist attack in Utrecht on Monday morning. “Very disturbing news’, he said to NOS as he was heading back to his office to meet with a crisis team that has been gathered. The national coordinator for counter terrorism and security NCTV increased the threat level for the province of Utrecht to 5, the highest threat level, until at least 6:00 p.m.
The Prime Minister was in the middle of a coalition meeting when a man opened fire in a tram on 24 Oktoberplein in Utrecht at around 10:45 a.m. on Monday morning. Multiple people were injured. Unconfirmed witness reports say that one person was killed. Rutte canceled the meeting and immediately headed back to his office to meet with the authorities. He could not yet say whether this was a terrorist attack, “but I am very worried”, he said to NOS.
“I am in close contact with the police and Public Prosecutor”, Utrecht mayor Jan van Zanen said to NOS. The first meeting between the triangle of mayor, police and prosecutor already happened. “The triangle can confirm that the police and Public Prosecutor are currently looking for the person responsible for this incident. The most important at this moment is taking care of the wounded and investigating the circumstances of the incident. We do not exclude anything, including a terrorist attack.”
Reporters covering the day’s politics in The Hague, two days before the Provincial States elections, saw heavily armed Marechaussee officers around parliament. The police are also heavily present around the political buildings on the Binnenhof, according to NOS.
PvdA leader Lodewijk Asscher said that they decided not to attend a demonstration for better pensions in Rotterdam, following the shooting in Utrecht. “We are following developments. In our thoughts we are with the victims and aid workers”, he wrote on Twitter.
A level 5 threat level means that there is a critical terrorism threat in the Netherlands. The threat level is increased to 5 if the NCTV has concrete indications that terrorists are about to commit an attack in the Netherlands, if there was a terrorist attack in the Netherlands, and if there is a chance of another attack.