Belgian Police Arrest Suspected Car-Terror Attacker in AntwerpBy
Shoppers leaped to safety as man sped through Antwerp’s Meir
French suspect carried riot gun in trunk of his vehicle
Belgian police arrested a car driver who nearly mowed down shoppers in the city of Antwerp a day after a terrorist attacker killed three people close to the U.K. Parliament in London.
The 39-year-old French national was intercepted in a parking lot alongside the Scheldt River after he sped past pedestrians in the city’s main shopping street, prosecutors said. Several weapons, including knives and a riot gun, were discovered in the trunk of the vehicle, a red Citroen station wagon.
Soldiers patrolling the streets had failed to stop the car in the city center shortly before 11 a.m. local time, local police chief Serge Muyters told reporters at a televised briefing in City Hall on Thursday. Federal prosecutors said they had taken over the investigation into the incident because of its similarities to Wednesday’s deadly attack in London.
Antwerp Mayor Bart De Wever asked for assistance from the Defense Ministry to boost security in the city streets even further. Soldiers have been patrolling the streets of Belgium’s largest cities since Jan. 2015, in the wake of anti-terrorist raids following the Paris terror attacks.
“Army and police reacted very swiftly and effectively in Antwerp,” Deputy Prime Minister Kris Peeters said in a posting on Twitter. “Very fortunate there were no casualties.”