Thursday, March 23, 2017

Attempted Muslim Car Ramming Attack in Antwerp - Driver Arrested with Long Gun and Knives

A forensics expert working next to the suspect's car

A year and a day after the terror attacks in Brussels, and less than 24 hours after the deadly attack in London, a French-Tunisian man attempted to mow down pedestrians at an outdoor shopping mall in Antwerp. Amazingly, no one was hurt, and the man was arrested less than a mile from the scene. He was dressed in camouflage and had knives, a gun and possibly an explosive material in his car. I should note that the Daily Mail article alternately designates the gun as a "shotgun," a "riot gun (rifle)" and an "assault rifle."

From the Daily Mail:
French-Tunisian is arrested after trying to drive a car loaded with liquid gas, assault rifle and knives into shoppers in an attempted terrorist attack in Antwerp
  • Belgian police confirmed more security personnel were being sent to the city
  • The car, which had French plates, was driven at high speed trying to enter street
  • Scene has been described as Antwerp's main pedestrianised shopping street
  • Comes hours after three people were killed by an attacker shot dead in London
A French -Tunisian has been arrested after trying to drive a car loaded with liquid gas, assault rifles and knives into a crowd of shoppers in Antwerp in an attempted terror attack.
Belgian police, who confirmed the bomb squad had been sent to the area, said the car was being driven at high speed and that pedestrians had to jump out of the way to avoid being injured.
Authorities found knives, a shotgun and a gas can with an unknown liquid in the car prompting officers who usually deal with extremist attacks to take over the case.
It comes just hours after three people were killed in London by a terrorist who mowed down pedestrians and cyclists outside the House of Commons before stabbing a policeman to death.
Belgian police arrested a man named as Mohamed R, 39, on Thursday after he tried to drive into a crowd at high-speed in a shopping area in the port city of Antwerp at around 11am.
The suspect, who has not been confirmed as a Muslim but is named after the religion's prophet and is said to be of North African descent, was wearing camouflage when he was arrested.
Belgian security forces found a rifle as well as bladed weapons in the car driven by the Frenchman who tried to ram a crowd in the main pedestrianised street in the port city, described by the French President Francois Hollande as an 'attempted terrorist attack'.
The federal prosecutor's office also said bomb disposal units were sent to the scene to examine the vehicle.
'Different arms were found in the boot - bladed weapons, a riot gun (rifle) and a container of liquid that is still unidentified,' the federal prosecutor's office said in a statement.
'The suspect is Mohamed R, born on May 8, 1977, of French nationality and a resident of France,' the statement said.
The driver sped off after Belgian soldiers, who have been deployed around the country to assist the counter-terrorism fight, tried to stop the car.
'A short while later, a rapid intervention force from Antwerp police was able to stop the car,' the statement said.
It was not immediately clear if the car contained any explosives.
The car was driven down the Meir street in Antwerp - the city's busiest pedestrianised streets.
Shoppers had to dive out of the way of the speeding car to avoid serious injury. 
Belgian soldiers then forced the driver to stop, but he fled by running a red light as he made his way towards the Scheldt river.
Less than a mile later, he was stopped by police officers and arrested.
The gas liquid was found in a canister, and as a result the case was handed over to the federal prosecutor's office, which usually deals with terrorism cases in Belgium.
The office said: 'Because of these elements, and the events in London yesterday, the case is being taken on by the federal prosecutor's office.'
Prime Minister Charles Michel said 'we remain vigilant. Our security services have done excellent work.'
The events happened a day after the nation held remembrance services for the Brussels airport and subway attacks, which killed 32 people on March 22, 2016.
He added the driver was later arrested and additional police and military personnel had been deployed to the centre of Antwerp, but did not give any further details.
The suspect was said to be travelling in a car registered in France and that it was a red Citroën.
He tried and failed to knock people down in the busy shopping area and fled the scene towards the city's port where he was arrested, according to Le Soir.
The man, who is said to be of North African origin, was detained on St Michielskaai in Antwerp which is less than a mile away from the Meir, according to VTM.

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