May 26 (Bloomberg) -- A shooting attack in Brussels over the weekend that left three people dead and another fighting for his life lasted less than half a minute.
Belgian authorities yesterday released surveillance-camera footage from the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels showing the killer entering the building on May 24, pulling a Kalashnikov-type assault rifle from a bag, firing it and then leaving on foot. The video clip is 28 seconds long.
The federal police posted the tape, along with two shorter videos of the man outside the museum, on its website yesterday afternoon and called on the public to help find the assailant. The government raised the threat level at Jewish sites across the country, meaning a “permanent police presence” at these locations, Belgian Interior Minister Joelle Milquet said a few hours after the attack.
Israel’s ambassador to Belgium, Jacques Revah, called the extra security a “sad necessity,” saying the shooting shows “there is a risk that these institutions could be attacked.” While Belgian authorities haven’t confirmed that the killings were antisemitic, “the place chosen, the people chosen, the modus operandi chosen; all that indicates that it wasn’t by chance that it happened at that place,” Revah said in an interview on Sunday at the Israeli embassy in Brussels.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said late Saturday that “this act of murder is the result of constant incitement against Jews and their state.” Two Israelis and one French citizen were killed in the attack.
The fourth victim of the shooting, a Belgian man, was still in ``very critical condition'' late Sunday, Ine Van Wymersch, an official in the Brussels judiciary’s investigative arm, told Belga newswire shortly before 11 p.m.
The deadly attack occurred on the eve of Sunday’s election in Belgium, dominated by a north-south divide that blocked the setup of a government for a record 541 days after the 2010 vote.
“Our country and all our people, whatever their language, origins or religion, are unified faced with this abhorrent attack on a place of Jewish culture,” Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo said on Saturday. “Everything is being done” to hunt down the culprit, he said.
French President Francois Hollande condemned “the terrible massacre” in Brussels, extending in a statement “France’s full solidarity to the Belgian people in this ordeal.”
Di Rupo spoke by telephone with Netanyahu and Hollande and expressed his condolences on behalf of the Belgian government, according to the prime minister’s office.
“Clearly when there are murders inside a Jewish museum, you ask yourself if it was an antisemitic attack,” said Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, who was near the museum at the time of the shooting and was among the first to arrive on the scene. “But wait until we have caught the culprit or culprits and we can be sure.”
In France, Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve yesterday called on local authorities to strengthen security at places of Jewish worship and culture after two men were assaulted the previous evening as they left a synagogue in a suburb of Paris.
“The minister of the interior wishes to reaffirm his unwavering determination to fight those who, by their murderous acts or foul words, propagate racism and antisemitism, and undermine the cohesion that our society needs more than ever,” Cazeneuve said in a statement.
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