Police in Brussels have detained one suspect in the fatal shooting of three people at the city’s Jewish Museum. A manhunt for a second suspect is continuing.
Two women and a man were killed in Saturday’s armed attack, and were all struck by bullets in the face or throat, according to the public prosecutor’s office. Investigators are looking into whether the attack was motivated by anti-Jewish bigotry.
The detained man has admitted to being present at the time of the attack, according to reports from Belgian news agency Belga. The public prosecutor says the suspect is believed to have driven a car that fled the scene after the shooting, which took place mid-Saturday afternoon in the upmarket Sablon district.
Witnesses said a gunman entered the Jewish Museum, fired shots and fled by car. This has been backed up by Interior Minister Joelle Milquet, who told reporters the shooter parked a car outside before entering the museum, and then “apparently fired rather quickly, went outside and left.”
A second person who is wanted for questioning left the area on foot, according to the public prosecutor’s spokeswoman Ine Van Wymersch. She said security camera footage was being studied to help identify the person.
The attack came on the eve of national elections for a new federal government and polling across the EU for the European Parliament, and caused authorities to raise anti-terror measures across Brussels.
“We decided to apply to a maximum level of protection to Jewish sites,” Milquet said. She said it was too early to establish anti-Semitic grounds for the attack, but “there are strong grounds for presuming so.”
Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo voiced both his shock at the attack and support for the Jewish community.
“Our country and all Belgians, irrespective of their language, their origin or their faith, are united and together in the face of this attack in a Jewish cultural venue,” the government said in a statement.
Israel said the attack was a result of anti-Jewish and Israeli sentiment in Europe.
“This act of murder is the result of constant incitement against Jews and their state,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.
“Slander and lies against the State of Israel continue to be heard on European soil even as the crimes against humanity and acts of murder being perpetrated in our region are systematically ignored,” Netanyahu added.
jr/mr (AP, dpa, AFP)