Friday 23 February 2018

Man charged with terror offences over Antwerp car incident

Police investigators inspect a car near the river in Antwerp (AP)
Police investigators inspect a car near the river in Antwerp (AP)

Belgian authorities have charged a Tunisian man with terror-related offences after he allegedly drove his car at high speed around a busy shopping area in Antwerp.

The federal prosecutor's office said 39-year-old Mohamed R was charged with "attempted murder in a terror context" and gun offences.

After driving in the area around the Meir shopping road on Thursday, he was arrested at the port docks. No one was injured.

Authorities found knives, a shotgun and a fuel canister containing an unknown liquid inside the car.

Despite reports that people had to jump out of the way of the vehicle, several shop owners in the Meir shopping area said they heard or saw nothing unusual.

An official at the prosecutor's office said the suspect was "under the influence" but refused to elaborate whether it was drugs or alcohol.

At first, the incident appeared to have the hallmarks of several extremist attacks in Europe - a vehicle in a busy area bent on mowing down pedestrians.

It came the day after an SUV was used to run people over on Westminster Bridge in London, and follows truck rampages in Berlin and Nice last year.

It happened a day after Belgium held anniversary remembrance services for the Brussels airport and subway attacks, which killed 32 people on March 22 last year.

Belgium has been living under the second highest anti-terror alert ever since, with police and troops stationed in some public areas.


Press Association

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