Copycat Attack French-Tunisian Terrorist Arrested While Trying to Mow Down Shoppers in Car Packed With Shotgun and Gas Canister in Antwerp
Mark Hodge and Peter Allen, The Sun, March 23, 2017
A crazed terrorist has been dramatically foiled after attempting to mow down shoppers with a car in Antwerp – in a shocking incident which has been compared to yesterday’s deadly London attack.
Cops in the Belgian capital reportedly foiled the plot and detained the 39-year-old man, who is a French national of Tunisian descent and was carrying weapons, after he ran a through a red traffic light, Antwerp police chief Serge Muyters said.
The man was arrested on Thursday after he tried to drive into a crowd at high-speed in a shopping area in the port city, a police spokesman said.
“The suspect is Mohamed R., born on May 8, 1977, of French nationality and a resident of France,” the statement said.
Cops have confirmed the suspect was carrying knives, a pump-action rifle and a gas can with an unknown liquid at the time of the arrest.
“A man in camouflage was taken away,” the spokesman told a televised news conference in Antwerp.
Eyewitnesses said they saw many terrified people being forced to jump out of the way as the speed of the car increased.
French President Francois Hollande compared the incident to the attack in London that that left three people dead Wednesday, saying the Frenchman was “trying to kill people or create a dramatic event.”
It is not yet known if there were any serious injuries or if the car contained any explosives.
The failed attack comes less than 24 hours after the depraved assault in central where a warped ISIS-linked knifeman mowed people down with a car.
The Belgian incident also comes after the first anniversary of the Brussels’ bomb attacks which claimed the lives of thirty-two innocent people.
The Antwerp plot was foiled when the car was stopped as it jumped a red light, and a safety perimeter established around it immediately, said a local police source.
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.
“An anti-terrorist enquiry has been launched. Bomb disposal experts are at the scene, along with sniffer dogs.”
“At about 11 a.m. this morning a vehicle entered De Meir at high speed due to which pedestrians had to jump away.”
The spokesman 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.
Antwerp mayor Bart de Wever tweeted: “My gratitude on behalf of all Antwerp to the soldiers who have intervened, the police services and the special intervention force.”
Belgian authorities say they have raised security in the port of Antwerp after the suspicious car ran a red light and was stopped at the docks.
A bomb squad was brought in and the authorities raised security in the centre of town Thursday, in places where people normally gather.
Prime Minister Charles Michel said that “we remain vigilant. Our security services have done excellent work.”
The suspected terror incident bore chilling similarities with a cowardly tactic used by ISIS who today claimed responsibility for the London attack.