Belgium arrests armed man for driving vehicle into crowd

Cities around Europe remain on high alert after a car-ramming attack in London on Wednesday killed three civilians.

Photo by: (AFP)
Photo by: (AFP)

Police officers stand next to a car which had entered the main shopping street in the city at high speed, in Antwerp, Belgium.

Belgian police arrested a man on Thursday after he tried to drive a car into a crowd at high-speed in a shopping street in the port city of Antwerp, a police chief said.

The man was a French national living in France and carried knives and other weapons in his car, which had French registration plates, prosecutors said.

"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.

Antwerp police chief Serge Muyters told a news conference that a vehicle with French plates tried to drive at high speed into the Meir shopping street.

"The pedestrians had to jump aside," he said.

Muyters said additional police and military personnel had been deployed to the centre of Antwerp.

Drunk driver

A French source later told Reuters that authorities there believed the suspect had not been trying to hit anyone, but was probably drunk and trying to escape a police check.

The source described the suspect as a Tunisian national living in France, known to police for common law crimes. There was no immediate comment on the source's account from Belgium.

The incident came a day after an attack outside the UK parliament in London killed three people. The attacker was also killed in the incident. 

The London attack took place after the first anniversary of Daesh suicide bombings in the Belgian capital Brussels in which 32 people died.

TRTWorld and agencies