Friday 20 October 2017

Driver held after he sped through pedestrianised street in Belgium

A forensics expert stands next to a car which had entered the main pedestrian shopping street in the city at high speed, in Antwerp, Belgium. Photo: REUTERS
A forensics expert stands next to a car which had entered the main pedestrian shopping street in the city at high speed, in Antwerp, Belgium. Photo: REUTERS

Clement Rossignol

A man drove a car at speed into a pedestrianised street in Antwerp yesterday, forcing people to jump out of its path, a day after an assailant rammed a vehicle into crowds in central London, police said.

The car sped away in the Belgian port leaving no one injured, but prosecutors said police later arrested a man suspected of being the driver, naming him as Mohamed R, a 39-year-old French national of North African origin.

Antwerp police found knives in the vehicle and a canister containing an unknown substance that bomb disposal officers were checking, Belgian federal prosecutors' office said in a statement.

The Belgian federal prosecutors did not give details of any motive but said they had been called in "based on all these elements and the events in London yesterday".

A French source later said that authorities there believed the suspect had not been trying to hit anyone, but was probably drunk and trying to escape a police check. The source described the suspect as a Tunisian national living in France, known to police for common law crimes.

The car entered Antwerp's busy De Meir shopping street at around 11am, said police.

Patrolling soldiers tried to stop it but it went through a red light and drove off, said a police spokesman.

The vehicle later came to a halt near Antwerp's waterfront.

Irish Independent

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